Dispensary licenses grinding through Illinois court, likely held up until at least Spring 2021

Cook County Circuit Court Judge Moishe Jacobius ordered two cannabis cases be joined Wednesday. (Zoom)

Attorneys for the State of Illinois said in court Wednesday that the state planned to wait for court cases to be resolved before it would award the 75 cannabis dispensary licences in question as one of the state’s main cannabis cases looks like it won’t find a resolution until next spring, at the earliest.

Cook County Circuit Court Judge Moishe Jacobius allowed an amended complaint in Wah LLC v. Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) that names accounting firm KPMG as a defendant, and delayed further consideration of the case until January 5, 2021 so KPMG can file a defense briefing. There’s still many steps left to the case, including discovery, arguments before the judge, and a final written decision. Even after that, either party could appeal to a higher court, adding even more delay.

The Wah case, as well as another case in Illinois’ Sangamon County that has yet to get underway, Hazehaus LLC v. IDFPR, questions the validity of the scoring process Illinois used for a dispensary licensing awarding process originally slated to be completed in May 2020, but delayed to September by an executive order issued by Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker.

To settle another scoring case in federal court, the state plans to redo the scoring process, by first issuing “supplemental discrepancy notices” to applicants, so they may improve their applications. Winning applications would then be allowed to enter a lottery round where the 75 dispensary licenses would be awarded. Accounting firm KPMG was contracted to manage the scoring process on behalf of the state.

Backed-up behind the dispensary licenses are another 40 craft grow, 40 infuser, and an open number of transporter licenses that were also scored by KPMG. Although that scoring process is not under consideration in court, the state has held up award of those licenses since the scoring process was similar to that for dispensaries.

One of the attorneys for the state, Assistant Attorney General Sunil Bhave, argued that the cases should be consolidated so the state can assign licenses without fear the courts will make changes.

“As a practical matter, the department needs certainty, needs to understand its decisions moving forward will not conflict with court orders,” said Bhave to the court.

Judge Jacobius also agreed to hear a second pending Cook County case simultaneously, 26th Regiment Latino Veterans Unit LLC v. IDFPR on the grounds that both cases were related. A second case, Clean Slate OpCo v. IDFPR, was allowed by Judge Jacobius to continue as a separate case.