Illinois Likely To Delay Dispensary Lottery Until At Least October 15

Gov. J.B. Pritzker may be hemmed in by state law, so that he needs a judge to order him to act. (Harry Carmichael/Flickr)

Attorneys for the State of Illinois entered into a verbal agreement Thursday to delay the state’s cannabis dispensary lottery until October 15, says Mazie Harris, plaintiffs’ attorney for a group of cannabis applicants suing the state in Cook County Circuit Court. Meanwhile, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker sent a letter to the Black and Latino Legislative Caucuses, saying that his staff are “working to provide thorough and accurate answers to these questions,” of application transparency.

“They wanted more time to seek a resolution,” said Harris. “They indicated the state has agreed to not issue a license until October 15,” in negotiations. Previously, state regulators had promised to not hold a lottery until Wednesday, September 23. Harris filed a proposed written agreement with the court for the lottery delay that will be likely approved by Judge Moishe Jacobius on Tuesday.

Harris is suing Illinois regulators on behalf of two dispensary applicants who did not make it to the tie breaking round, Wah LLC and HAAAYY LLC. She says that she expects to add more plaintiffs to the complaint on Tuesday. The Wah v. Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) case is one of four suits currently working their way through courts.

The Illinois Attorney General’s Office and the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation did not respond to requests for comment by publication. 

Gov. Pritzker’s letter did not directly address concerns about the transparency and operations of the dispensary application process, but instead extolled virtues of the recreational cannabis law, enacted in 2019. 

To some degree, Gov. Pritzker is hemmed in by the law, since the state did execute the application process as legislated – even if it might have been executed poorly. Because the state government did officially award tiebreaker status to a group of applicants, those winners could have standing to sue the state if Illinois were to nullify or change the tiebreaker’s status in an effort to repair the application process, say attorneys familiar with the law. Instead, Gov. Pritzker may prefer a judge for one of the pending lawsuits to order state government to make changes, giving him cover from future lawsuits.