The Cook County courthouse in Chicago's Loop. Also: A Picasso statue that nobody knows what it really is. Horse? Woman? Baboon? Credit: Jaysin Trevino / Flickr

Illinois craft grow applicants await the results of their applications, now over eleven months late, and are increasingly concerned their application pool will undergo a replay of the scoring problems and lawsuits resulting from the Illinois dispensary license process.

A survey of craft grow applicants who received the recent round of discrepancy notices, found that the only applicants to receive the notices were veteran-led teams. Illinois’ first round of 75 new dispensary licenses since legalizing adult-use cannabis sales has been mired in lawsuits since September 2020, largely because of an application scoring rule that prioritized veteran-led groups over all others.

“We cannot find a non-veteran recipient of a deficiency for craft grow,” said Paul Magelli, executive director of the Illinois Craft Cannabis Association, the trade group that conducted the survey. “We are aware [non-veteran deficiency recipients] for infusion and transporter [applicants].”

Asked for information on the number of deficiency notices sent out for craft grow and if there was perhaps a veterans’ preference, an Illinois Department of Agriculture spokesperson referred Grown In to the department’s website for answers.

Social equity advocate Natascha Neptune, president of S.E.E.N., sent an email to hundreds of her organization’s members last week saying that she has been approached by attorneys concerned with the craft grow licensing process. In her note, she quotes Locke Lord attorney David Standa, “Because the DofA scored the apps in this way it ensured that only vet applicants would have a chance at licensure. It is our opinion that this is unconstitutional…and that the contemplated lottery should not be allowed to proceed.”

Neither Neptune or Standa responded to Grown In’s request for comment by publication.


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...