The Richard J. Daley Center

Here be where dragons lie for Illinois cannabis licenses. Credit: The Richard J. Daley Courthouse

Documents filed Monday in Cook County Circuit Court by a pair of Illinois cannabis dispensary license applicants allege specific lottery administration errors in the July 29 Qualifying Applicant license lottery and charges that the scoring process of the August 5 Social Equity Justice Involved lottery was unjust and should be nullified. In previous filings, and reiterated again in Monday’s filing, the plaintiffs demand for points awarded for military veteran status to be discounted and for applications to be rescored to allow a larger group to participate in the August 19 Tied Applicant Lottery.

The three lotteries together allocate 185 dispensary licenses, each of which has been valued between $2 to $3 million even before beginning operations. So far an emergency order from the court case has allowed the lotteries to go forward, but not for the state to hand over licenses to lottery winners.

[Read the Wah v. IDFPR amended complaint]

The new charges, made in an amended complaint in the ongoing Wah v. IDFPR lawsuit were first reported by Grown In earlier this week following oral arguments in court. But the written complaint provides specific accusations of error in conducting the July 29 Qualifying Applicant Lottery. Specifically:

  • The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR), the agency responsible for overseeing dispensary applications, only provided Wah Group LLC one unique lottery number in the St. Louis BLS Region lottery, rather than the two they were entitled to.
  • Also in the St. Louis BLS Region lottery, one company was allegedly  awarded an additional unique lottery number, one more than they were entitled to. Meanwhile, three companies were allegedly allowed to participate in the lottery, despite not being registered as Illinois companies, as required by the application.

Then, for the August 5, Social Equity Justice Involved Lottery, the plaintiffs provide detailed allegations of how multiple companies received an incorrect number of unique lottery numbers or were not registered Illinois companies.

In last Monday’s hearing, the plaintiff attorney, Mazie Harris, said that IDFPR officials had admitted to her the mistakes in lottery administration.

Both lotteries were conducted by officials from the Illinois Lottery without third party, non-government personnel present, so the complaint charges, “The inconsistencies as highlighted above raise serious concerns as to the validity of the [Social Equity Justice Involved] lottery, given that it was conducted in secrecy.”

The plaintiffs are demanding the judge order a redo of the St. Louis BLS region portion of the Qualifying Applicant Lottery. 

The filing also alleges “Corruption and Insider Handling” of the lotteries, specifically because the team EHR Holdings, which was led by former Chicago Police Superintendent Terry Hilliard until his resignation from the team last October, has been allowed to participate in lotteries, even though application rules bar membership changes to lottery teams.

There is a status hearing for the case next Monday, August 16. In last Monday’s hearing, attorneys for the state said they plan to file to dismiss the amended complaint.


Editor Mike is a co-founder and the editor of Grown In, a U.S. national cannabis industry newsletter and training company. His career has taken him from Capitol Hill to Chicago City Hall, from...