Marines conduct a unit physical training session during Kamandag, a bilateral exercise, in San Vicente, Philippines, Oct. 8, 2022. MKPG LLC is contending that until 2011, they would not have legally been able to be one of these Marines, thus Illinois’ cannabis veterans points are discriminatory. Credit: Lance Cpl. Michael Taggart / U.S. Marine Corps

A long-running Illinois lawsuit in Cook County Circuit Court to invalidate the state’s dispensary license scoring system on state constitutional grounds has taken a new turn, as the plaintiffs filed new charges that the state’s application scoring, which awarded extra points to veterans, is discriminatory against LGBTQ+ people, since the nation’s ban on gay and lesbian military service members was not dropped until September 2011.

“The preference for veterans conflicts with the State of Illinois’ equality for the LGBTQ community. There’s no doubt about it,” said the plaintiffs’ attorney Ryan Holz from Greenspoon Marder.

The plaintiff, MKPG LLC, a dispensary applicant, is owned by two sisters, one of whom is gay. Grown In confirmed their identity, but they requested their names be withheld to maintain their privacy.

“You needed those veterans points [to win the license]. And they were not available to you. You need to contort yourself to figure out how an openly gay person could have served in the military,” said Holz.

MKPG first filed suit in August 2021, before the application scoring process was complete. The amended complaint claims the application scoring process discriminates and is unconstitutional on facial grounds – there is no circumstance where it would not be discriminatory. 

The complaint, made with another company, Big City Ventures LLC, asks for licenses to be awarded to the companies and for Judge Anna Demacopoulos to find the veterans points unconstitutional, which could potentially require the state to rescore every single dispensary application. 

MKPG and Big City Ventures have already won a “corrective lottery”, a process created for this and another consolidated case of dozens of dispensary license complaints. In the corrective lottery process, if the complainant wins a license in the corrective lottery, they are then allowed to argue their case before a judge to keep the license.

The Illinois Attorney General has announced intentions to file for dismissal of the case. Briefings for that motion have been scheduled for November and early December with a decision on the dismissal motion expected in mid-December. If Judge Demacopoulos does not find for dismissal, the MKPG case will likely be argued on the law, with no discovery, which means it would likely be decided by March 2023.


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...