Today Illinois will distribute 55 new adult-use cannabis dispensary licenses through lottery, the first new licenses to be awarded since 2019. The license process has overcome many hurdles to get here, including a lawsuit that was called off yesterday, a one request to stop the lotteries, and a judge’s order to run the lottery but not actually award the licenses.

To get you up to speed, here are the basic facts on today’s Illinois dispensary license lottery, lawsuits, and other Illinois license awards still in process.

  1. What’s being awarded today?

Officially nothing. An emergency order in Cook County Circuit Court yesterday directed the state to conduct lotteries, but to not actually award licenses until a hearing on August 9. At that hearing, part of a lawsuit, Wah v. IDFPR, that’s been running since last October, a judge will determine whether Illinois’ application scoring system unjustly tilts scoring towards veteran-led teams, who receive extra points.

  1. OK, if nobody’s getting a license, then what is the lottery for?

The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR), which regulates dispensaries, will today select 55 Conditional Adult-Use dispensary licenses in the Qualifying Applicant Lottery. These selections will be distributed according to the state’s 17 Bureau of Labor Statistics regions (map here). Adult-use dispensary licenses are not allowed to sell to medical patients, which is about 27% of total cannabis sales in Illinois.

  1. Who is eligible for the lottery?

Today’s lottery includes everyone from the dispensary applicant pool who received at least 85% of the total points awarded in scoring. Yesterday afternoon, IDFPR sent updated scores and lottery details to applicants via email. Applicants need 213 of 250 total points to be eligible.

The applicant pool comes from 4,518 applications from 937 applicant groups submitted in January 2020. Those applications were scored by accounting firm KPMG and underwent four rounds of discrepancy notification, meaning that when materials were found to be missing or incomplete, regulators notified applicants and gave them time to “cure” or fix their application before a final score was determined. Illinois regulators have not released the complete list of final scores, although they unintentionally released earlier scores to Grown In before the fourth round of discrepancy notifications. By that scoring, about two thirds of the 2,588 eligible applications would qualify for today’s lottery.

  1. When is the lottery, and how will I know who won?

Conducted by the Illinois Lottery (here’s details on their process), it will be run at some point today (IDPFR isn’t saying when) and results will be posted here by 5:00 p.m. Central Time today. If previous results released by IDFPR are an indication, we should expect a list of company names that won licenses, sorted out by BLS regions.

  1. When are the other lotteries?

There are three other lotteries scheduled, the Social Equity Justice Involved Lottery, scheduled for August 5 (which is also impacted by yesterday’s Wah v. IDFPR emergency order),, the Tied Applicant Lottery, scheduled for August 19 and the Social Equity Justice Involved Medical Lottery, which has not yet been scheduled. The Justice Involved Lottery will be limited to applicants who obtained social equity points as a result of living in certain communities disproportionately impacted by the War on Drugs and have at least 213 points (85%). The Tied Applicant Lottery is limited to applicants who received perfect application scores. The Medical Lottery, for five medical licenses, each paired with an adult-use license, will be open to the same group as the Justice Involved Lottery.

  1. How many licenses can someone win?

Applicants eligible for today’s lottery cannot keep more than two Conditional Adult-Use dispensary licenses. If you win more than two licenses today, you must announce which licenses you’ll give up by noon, August 5. Participants in the Tied Lottery can keep up to 10. 

  1. What’s up with craft grow, infuser, and transport licenses?

Two weeks ago the Illinois Department of Agriculture (ILDOA), the agency responsible for cultivation, craft grow, infuser, and transport licenses, notified 40 craft grow, 32 infuser, and 141 transportation license winners. Infuser and craft grow winners need to pay a license fee by today. ILDOA says the winners will be announced after they have paid their fees. ILDOA also says they plan to issue another 60 craft grow and 60 additional infuser licenses by December 21, 2021. They also will not release scores until that date, which has upset some applicants.

  1. Are there more licenses coming?

Toi Hutchinson, the Senior Advisor for Cannabis Control to Gov. J.B. Pritzker, has said multiple times that the Governor is committed to creating more licenses of all types, but not until regulators have an opportunity to assess the existing process. How long that will take is unclear.

  1. When could the state make more changes?

Besides creating more licenses, there are lots of rules fixes cannabis licensees want, but because Illinois has put so many of the cannabis rules into statute, the state legislature has to pass new laws for most meaningful changes. The Illinois General Assembly meets again for six days in the last two weeks of October, and then not again until January 2022. Legislators are already proposing cannabis-related bills for passage in October.


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...