Cook County Circuit Court Judge Moshe Jacobius hears arguments for the Wah v. IDFPR case on August 9, 2021. Credit: Cook County Circuit Court / Zoom
Part [part not set] of 12 in the series Illinois’ Dispensary Licenses in Court

Part 8 of 12 in the series Illinois’ Dispensary Licenses in Court

Newly selected Illinois cannabis dispensary license holders will not receive their license until August 30 at the earliest but the August 19 Tied Applicant Lottery will be allowed to go forward, following a hearing this morning in Cook County Circuit Court. Also, Judge Jacobius made no decision on so-called “veterans points”, but announced another hearing next Monday, August 16, before the next lottery.

In addition, in an explosive, new complaint filed over the weekend by the case’s plaintiffs, alleges that one of their applications was not included in the August 6 lottery. Muddying the waters even more, the plaintiffs alleged that other applicants received additional applications they had not filed for, and that Illinois regulators had admitted their mistake to the plaintiff’s attorney.

In a complex case, Wah v. IDFPR, that has been ongoing since September 2020, Judge Moshe Jacobius reiterated that the stay he first put in on May 10 remains in place for all lotteries – the State of Illinois cannot distribute new dispensary licenses to lottery winners, although it can conduct the lotteries. 

The case centers on two applicants, Wah Group LLC and Haayyy LLC, who claim the applicant scoring process was unfair because it included bonus points for teams that were veteran-led, points that became critical because so many teams obtained perfect scores. The Tied Applicant Lottery is for teams that tied with perfect application scores.

Attempting to solve some of the complaints, Judge Jacobius ordered Illinois regulators to provide Wah Group LLC with an opportunity to resubmit their application so it may include information that may obtain veterans’ points, and then for regulators to score that application within 48 hours so Wah could potentially participate in the August 19 lottery.

Throughout the hearing, Judge Jacobius repeatedly stated that he was not yet providing a decision on the veterans points issue, but he said following a search of case law across the country, he could not find any support for allowing the veterans’ points to stand. Attorneys for the State of Illinois argued that although the application termed the points “optional”, applicants should have known to submit their best work.

“What you just said is not convincing,” said Jacobius speaking to an Illinois Assistant Attorney General, “It didn’t start out to be mandatory, but it ultimately became mandatory. That’s something the Department or legislators should have thought about before.”

Mazie Harris, attorney for Wah Group LLC, said that she filed an amended complaint this weekend because in the Friday, August 6 lottery, they only received one lottery number for the St. Louis BLS Region lottery, when they should have received two. In addition, Ms. Harris alleged that one applicant received an extra lottery number in that lottery, more than they had applied for.

“We believe it is important for that lottery in the BLS region of St. Louis to be reheld,” said Ms. Harris.

Robert Walker, attorney for Haayyy LLC, one of the two plaintiffs, requested that Judge Jacobius make a decision before August 19 on the veterans points issue, since that would directly impact the number of participants in the Tied Applicant Lottery.

“I’ll go back to consider it,” said Judge Jacobius, who then said he would reconvene for another court hearing next Monday, giving the State a chance to respond in writing to the newest lottery allegations made by the plaintiffs.Attorneys for the State of Illinois also announced they will release a complete list of license holders by August 30, once all awards have been completed. At that time, applicants would be invited to submit requests for administrative review.

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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...