After months in court, some Illinois dispensary applicants are getting a second chance at a license after a court-ordered lottery was conducted last week.
The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) held three lotteries over the course of three days – the Qualifying Applicant Lottery on June 21, the Social Equity Justice Involved Corrective Lottery on June 22, and the Tied Applicant Lottery on June 23, to award up to 55 additional dispensary licenses to a group of applicants who say state regulators did not correctly administer previous license lotteries. The three corrective lottery awarded licenses from 17 different regions throughout the state.
The lotteries do not provide the applicants licenses outright, however. Winners must now argue the merits of getting a license before Cook County Circuit Court Judge Cecelia Gamrath, with various charges of errors by state regulators. Those who have lost in the corrective lottery process cannot move forward with another appeal, according to a plan put forward by Judge Gamrath.
The corrective lottery process was conducted in five steps: First with the IDFPR identifying the participants they intend to include in the corrective lotteries; second, a corrective lottery to filter out any errors made to the application process or opt out entirely; third, by putting a list together of the final applicants; fourth, a new lottery process conducted by officials from the Illinois Lottery; and finally the list of winners were read aloud from an envelope.
The process was a long time coming, as the state has been attempting to diversify the state’s dispensary license pool since legalizing adult use cannabis sales in January 2020. Currently, minority cannabis license ownership is at 2% in Illinois. The process has not been universally praised however, as many have taken umbrage with the fact that all of the licensees are military veteran-led, making it nearly impossible for those without a veteran-led application team to receive a license.
The battle over the license award process has been in motion since late 2020. Earlier this year, the Illinois Supreme Court consolidated the lawsuits into a single case, and Judge Gamrath was given the helm to attempt to resolve dozens of complaints, which range from calls for a new lottery process to scrapping the application process to begin anew.
Judge Gamrath has scheduled a status hearing on July 7, 2022 to discuss next steps, including setting a schedule for others who may want to appeal.