While the spotlight in Illinois is focused on the fate of the delayed 75 retail dispensary licenses, applicants for craft grow licenses – expected to be awarded this fall –  are beginning to receive deficiency notices from the state. (Petapixel)

In a welcome signal of bureaucratic progress, the Illinois Department of Agriculture is sending deficiency notices to those applying for Adult Use Cannabis craft grow licenses. 

Grown In confirmed with multiple craft grow applicants that they were in receipt of deficiency notices that according to the Department of Agriculture’s guidance “identify the missing information and proper method of submission” for a modified application. Notices are common, say industry insiders, and once deficiencies are addressed applications can proceed with the evaluation process. 

In early June, Cook Country Cannabis Commision Chair Bill Lowry revealed on a public video conversation that “Craft grower, infuser and transport licenses (were being) kicked back to mid-August.” Illinois cannabis tzar Toi Hutchinson, who was testifying in the video conversation, did not dispute that assessment. Governor J.B. Pritzker on June 30 through Executive Order delayed the licensing announcements indefinitely.

That notices were sent at all gives applicants hope. These groups – ranging from individuals impacted by previous drug laws to hedge fund managers –  are anxiously awaiting who wins the 40 coveted craft grow licenses and 40 cannabis infusion licenses. Many social equity-designated applicants received support from incumbent cannabis companies already operating cultivation, processing and retail facilities in the state. 

Concurrently, the thousands of applicants for the next 75 dispensary licenses in Illinois are waiting out their own delays. During last month’s Cook County Cannabis Commission video, Hutchinson indicated that applicants that won their geographic region outright would receive word my mid-July. Most dispensary licenses are not expected to be awarded until September or later, as tie-breaking and other issues are reconciled by the State behind closed doors. 

“I’m patient and I understand how Chicago works,” said Greg Owens, CEO of friends and family-owned holding company 40 Acres and a Mule, which in total applied for 60 dispensary applications and dozens of craft grow and processing licenses. 

Owens confirmed that entities affiliated with 40 Acres were receiving receipt notices, and says that the deficiency “indicates that my application is being looked at and that majority of it is  good and the rest will be corrected.”

And as for everyone out there sweating out the delays?

“While you’re waiting, just prepare yourself,” he said. “You don’t have to go out and necessarily spend a lot of money on properties. You have to get those relationships in place and be ready to move as soon as it happens.”

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Brad Spirrison is a journalist, serial entrepreneur and media ecologist. He lives in Chicago with his son. Interests include music, meditation and Miles Davis.