Rejected dispensary applicants in Illinois may get another bite at the apple, if a court motion filed by attorneys for the State of Illinois get their way in the state’s dispensary “supercase”. Meanwhile, in another consolidated case of craft grow license applicants suing the state, the Illinois supreme court denied a motion to allow state regulators to award craft grow licenses to some of the applicants so that winners of 47 uncontested licenses can move forward with their delayed business plans.
The consolidated case of 32 Illinois dispensary applicants suing the state over the application process met before a Cook County Circuit Court judge last Tuesday, one of a series of hearings as the litigants jockey for position before the trial begins. Resolution of the case holds the fate of 185 dispensary licenses, some of which were first supposed to be issued in April 2020.
In Tuesday’s hearing on dispensary licenses, Judge Cecilia Gamrath denied motions to substitute her with another judge, denied attempts to sever a pair of plaintiffs from the consolidated case, and allowed defending attorneys for the state to argue that more plaintiffs should be allowed join the suit.
The state’s motion to allow additional plaintiffs to join the suit is highly irregular, and Judge Gamrath voiced her reticence to allow it, say attorneys in attendance, since the 35-day window for allowing complaints against state administrative decisions – essentially the evaluation of a license application – has long since passed. Gamrath allowed the state’s motion to proceed to briefing, more paper-based arguments, from the defendants and the state’s attorneys.
The Attorney General’s move to allow more applicants to be part of the consolidated case is potentially a political move. As over 240 dispensary and craft grow licenses have been locked in court for months, Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s administration has been reportedly pressuring the Attorney General for ways to allow disqualified applicants to be let back into the process. Allowing more applicants into the consolidated case would accomplish that goal, but it’s Judge Gamrath’s decision whether or not it will be allowed.
For the motion on craft grow licenses, the Supreme Court did not elucidate the reason for the denial.
“It’s a very disappointing decision. By keeping in place the stay on the announcement of all 60 license winners rather than allowing the Department of Agriculture to announce up to 47 of them, the Illinois Supreme Court has harmed dozens, if not hundreds, of Social Equity Applicants who are facing serious financial consequences as a result of this delay,” said Ryan Holz, an attorney from Greenspoon Marder representing craft grow applicant 1837 Craft Grow LLC, which has a $2.5 million real estate option on a property that expires today.
As it stands, both cases’ actual trials are likely still months away from starting, as the consolidated dispensary case’s next court date is Feb. 25, to resolve the question of whether or not more plaintiffs should be allowed in the case and the craft grow’s next court date is March 10.