Attorneys representing 13 Illinois craft grow license applicants filed a motion this week asking the court to modify a recent stay so that winners of 47 uncontested licenses can move forward with their delayed business plans.
“Our position is that our clients relied on the Dec. 21 deadline,” Ryan M. Holz, attorney with Greenspoon Marder told Grown In. “Things are happening that are going to cause them real serious financial harm in the next couple of months. They made business decisions and their real estate options were based on that deadline.”
A Rule 383 motion for Supervisory Order was filed in the Illinois Supreme Court on behalf of one main party, 1837 Craft Grow LLC, and then supported with 12 affidavits from other applicants, charging that the lower court acted outside the scope of its power and the normal appellate process, Holz explained.
Illinois regulators were authorized through the 2019 adult-use legalization law to issue up to 60 additional cannabis craft grower licenses and 60 additional cannabis infuser licenses by Dec. 21, 2021. However, Illinois’ on-going craft grow “super case” includes a court order barring the award or transfer of craft grow licenses.
If approved by the Supreme Court, the 383 Motion would direct Sangamon County Judge Gail L. Noll to modify her Oct. 15, 2021, order and Cook County Circuit Court Judge Neil C. Cohen’s November 22, 2021 order, which indefinitely stayed the announcement and issuance of any of the 60 cannabis craft grow licenses.
“The 383 motion is basically asking for a summary decision to override a lower court’s decision on a particular issue to modify that stay such that it would allow the state to proceed with at least announcing the next set of licenses, said Paul Magelli, head of the Illinois Craft Cannabis Association, which represents craft growers, infusers, and transporter license applicants from an association perspective. We’re very supportive of what are the craft applicants to get the court to lift that stay.”
Under the modified stay proposed in the 383 motion, the Illinois Department of Agriculture would be permitted to announce the winners of 47 of the 60 licenses, but not issue the licenses until the consolidated proceedings are resolved, according to Holz.
“Part of our argument is that the next court date in the lower court in Sangamon County is not until March 10, a timeframe that prevents relief for their clients,” Holz said.
The Rule 383 motion seeks to modify the stay allowing the state to announce the 47 license holders. As for keeping a stay in place for the 13 disqualified applicants seeking a reversal of their disqualification, Holz has no objection.
“The 47 licenses are not contested, the state at least should announce the winners of those 47 licenses,” Holz said. “That would help a bunch of clients with real estate options or who have employment agreements that are expiring, who really cannot wait until March because they all thought everything was going to be issued in December.”
An Illinois judge affirmed a stay barring the state’s regulators from awarding 60 craft grow licenses by a Dec. 21 statutory deadline and set a hearing schedule last year that guarantees the licenses won’t be awarded until well into 2022, according to a previous Grown In news story.
1837 Craft Grow LLC has a $2.5 million real estate option on a property that expires on Jan. 31, Holz pointed out.
“They’re being put in a position where they can’t really exercise that option because they don’t know if they won and they don’t want this property if they didn’t win,” he explained. “At the same time, they don’t want to decline the option because if they do win, this is the property they really want to use. We’re hoping the supreme court asks for the Jan. 31 timeframe.”
The state could take some proactive measures, Magelli said in a previous Grown In interview.
“I don’t believe the state is restricted by the court to share scores,” he said. “They are restricted from announcing winners. If they’re able to share scores, a lot of people can move on with their lives or figure out if they want to become part of a legal process for administrative review if they feel like their licensing application hasn’t been fully or appropriately considered.”