Illinois has begun issuing permits for new craft grow cannabis operations to begin construction, and a judge has authorized the state to hold a corrective lottery for dispensary applicants that filed lawsuits challenging the licensing process.
Those two developments mark small but significant steps in the long-delayed process of expanding access and improving competition in the state’s legal marijuana industry.
Last August, the state Department of Agriculture announced the first 40 craft grower conditional license winners. It took until Wednesday for the first three of those applicants to get their plans approved and obtain permits to begin construction. Those businesses, Galaxy Labs in Richton Park, Mint Cannabis in Forest Park and Star Buds Illinois in Rockford, are all majority Latino- or Black-owned.
Of the 40 conditional license winners, 80% identify as nonwhite, and 88% qualified as social equity applicants, generally meaning the majority owner or a family member had a minor cannabis conviction, or came from poor areas with high rates of cannabis arrests, according to the state. Until those licenses were awarded, marijuana businesses in the state were almost entirely white-owned.
Up to 60 more craft licenses were to be issued last year, but those were held up by lawsuits. In March, a judge cleared the way for those licenses to be issued. Last week, Agriculture officials began notifying the first applicants eligible for those new licenses. The applicants have 10 days to fill out paperwork and pay the license fee of $40,000, or $20,000 for social equity applicants. [Read More @ The Chicago Tribune]
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