Sixty new Illinois craft grow licenses may be finally awarded in the coming weeks, as an Illinois judge took substantial steps last week to lift holds barring the state from awarding those licenses.
The moves were part of the state’s consolidated craft grow “supercase” into which the state supreme court aggregated a series of complaints before Sangamon County Circuit Court Gail Noll. As part of Thursday’s hearing, Judge Noll ordered the state to process applications for four craft grow applicants and affirmed the state’s decision to disqualify one applicant.
The case of the losing applicant, iaGP LLC, also included an injunction placed in November that restricts the state from announcing craft grow license winners. Judge Noll, anticipating that iaGP LLC may decide to appeal her decision, gave attorneys for the applicant – and others – until noon today to file briefs for and against lifting the injunction.
Judge Noll had issued her own stay on issuing licenses, but she plans to lift that stay today, she said in court on Thursday.
Previously, Illinois regulators had announced their intention to announce 60 more craft grow license winners by last December 21. The statute allows state regulators to issue up to 150 total licenses after January 1, 2022. After last August’s 40 licenses, and the 60 licenses currently held up, that allows another 50. Therefore, the state has latitude to issue additional licenses – such as those granted the right to have their applications reviewed by Judge Noll – allowing the award process to move forward.
Anticipating the award of those licenses, one trade group, the Illinois Independent Craft Grow Association “welcomed” the new 60 craft grower licensees to come. But part of the state’s original plan was that there would be at least a hundred independent dispensaries operating by now. Instead, the state has 110 dispensaries, most of which are tied to cultivation facilities, all over 100,000 square feet.
To whom will the new craft grow facilities sell their product?
“That’s a very good question,” said IICGA president Scott Redman. “I personally don’t see any craft growers producing any product at scale until a year from now. Thankfully it doesn’t take as long to open a dispensary. If they can get the dispensary issues resolved in the summer and get those licenses out, we’ll be okay.”