Illinois updates rules on craft grow license delays, applicants say “inadequate”, and go to court today

Struggling to placate craft grow, infuser, and transportation licence applicants who have been waiting since an original July 1 deadline for licenses, Illinois regulators posted new rules Monday supposed to ease their burden. But a trade association for craft grow applicants says the relief offered by the state is “wholly inadequate” and will bring to court today an emergency motion to freeze scores as they are and not penalize the applicants for changes to their teams or locations.

At issue for craft grow applicants is that their applications are reviewed based on specific secured locations and team members, such as having an expert cannabis grower as part of the founding team. But as applicants have been forced to wait extra months, the Illinois Craft Cannabis Association says landlords are no longer interested in holding open lease or sale options for applicants, and team members are moving on with their lives as other lucrative opportunities present themselves.

“Two third of the teams are losing a material team member, people that would be reportable [to the state]. Good cannabis growers are in high demand in every state in the nation,” said Paul Magelli, president of the Illinois Craft Cannabis Association (ICCA). Last week Magelli told Grown In that his members are spending around $5 million a month to maintain their property and teams, and that many members will lose options on their property by October 31.

Monday, the Illinois Department of Agriculture posted its first update to the Adult-Use Cannabis page in months, alerting readers that it would send out new deficiency notices at an unknown date, that applicants will be allowed to change their address once they win a license, that laying off team members specified in the application will not result in a scoring penalty, and that winning applicants unable to begin operations within six months will be allowed to request an extension.

“They’ve refused to produce any timeline for release of scoring, licenses, deficiencies. They’re just unable or unwilling to commit to anything that is specific or beneficial to the craft community on timing,” said Magelli. He also said the new rules on address changes or laying off team members lacks an affirmative statement needed by, “people who have spent many hundreds of thousands of dollars on property. They won’t take a big gamble on that now.”

The Department of Agriculture offered no further comment on the rule changes.

Magelli says the lack of a clear timeline has made applicants’ financial situation perilous, and necessitated going to court. 

“If it was just two more months, people would work that out. But people have lost trust, hope, in the process,” he said.