Plaintiffs in Illinois’ dispensary “supercase” will have an opportunity to participate in a corrective lottery for adult use dispensary licenses before they make their arguments before a Cook County Circuit Court judge on whether or not they should be entitled to a license, according to a ruling issued Tuesday night.
Sixty-seven dispensary application teams who contend their applications were either mishandled by the state or barred from participating in the application process are before Judge Cecilia Gamrath, each with different remedies ranging from requests to participate in a supplemental license lottery to a demand to scrap the entire application process and begin anew. The applicants’ complaints were consolidated into one case by the Illinois Supreme Court in an effort to streamline the many complaints filed across the state.
Judge Gamrath’s decision to order a lottery before hearing arguments is a move of her own to streamline the process, since she declared from the bench last month that, “This case will never conclude by 2022, you’ll be lucky if it concludes 18 months following that. There would not even be a ruling on merits for many, many months. If not years out.“
In her order issued Tuesday, Judge Gamrath says conducting the lottery first will help clear out who should continue with the case since, “At this point, Petitioners would know where they stand before deciding to proceed to the merits of their claims in hope of ultimately receiving a conditional license.”
“To wait until approximately 70 merits claims are heard and decided would add untold months to an already protracted process, forcing every Petitioner to wait with bated breath to the very end to know whether they satisfied both conditions that would entitle them to a conditional license,” wrote the judge.
Applicants will be allowed to opt out of the corrective lottery, so they can argue the merits of their case first, in order to preserve their right for due process – but this would inevitably delay a resolution for many applicants.
The corrective lottery will be conducted by the Illinois Lottery, according to statements made in court by Assistant Attorney General Doug Rees. Judge Gamrath ordered the Lottery agency to publish a plan on how to conduct the lottery by June 3, and conduct the first planned lottery no later than June 24, with the rest to come over a period of no more than 21 days.
In theory, it is possible that every one of the 68 plaintiffs could win a chance for a license, since they will each have their own independent odds. If they find out they won, they move forward to merit arguments in court. If they lose, their court process ends.
The next court date for a status on the lotteries and briefs on merits was set for July 26, 2022.