The Illinois dispensary supercase inched ever so much closer this week towards holding a corrective lottery for dozens of applicants who claim they were unjustly left out of last summer’s lotteries while two other cases, one in Illinois’ Cook County Circuit Court and another in the Northern Illinois Federal District Court, also ground forward on an existing stay and a proposed stay on issuing licenses.
On Monday, the dispensary supercase overseen by Cook County Circuit Court Judge Cecilia Gamrath, inched forward. In that case, where dozens of applicants who objected to the state license lottery process are seeking another chance at a license, Judge Gamrath continued her efforts to shorten the process.
The judge is guiding applicants towards a process where the objecting applicants will participate in a corrective lottery first, to determine whether they even have a chance at winning a license. Then, the presumably smaller group of corrective lottery winners for whom the odds are in their favor, will make arguments before Gamrath on whether or not the law supports whether or not they should get a license.
The supercase, a consolidation of dozens of applicant complaints from across the state forced together by a state Supreme Court order, will meet in-person on April 22, when Judge Gamrath will provide direction on how the corrective lottery would proceed. Some applicants have objected to the process, and while Judge Gamrath has directed the applicants to submit briefs on their opinion, her demeanor in court suggested she is not inclined to agree with any other system.
Dispensary stay could be consolidated with other cases
Meanwhile, also in Cook County Circuit Court, in the lawsuit that maintains the stay currently holding up the issuance of 185 adult use dispensary licenses, Judge Sophia Hall allowed Wednesday morning for the state to argue that the case should be consolidated with the existing supercase before Judge Gamrath.
Previously this case, WAH v. IDFPR, had been before Judge Moshe Jacobius, who has since retired. Last November Judge Jacobius decided the WAH case should not be consolidated with other dispensary cases, and now Judge Hall is allowing the state to litigate that issue. The hearing on that will be heard April 13.
Consolidating the WAH case with the supercase would be a major victory for the state, since the supercase is operating under different Illinois legal rules, known as Administrative Review Law, that does not allow discovery. If the WAH case is allowed to go forward under the current rules with Judge Hall, the plaintiffs could demand the state turn over reams of documents detailing how the application and lottery processes were conducted, and introduce a great deal of potentially embarrassing information into the public record. However, if the WAH case is shunted into supercase managed by Judge Gamrath, the state will not be exposed to discovery and will have considerably more leverage to seek a release of the stay over the issuance of the existing 185 licenses.
Federal case to stay all licenses
Finally, on Monday attorneys for the State of Illinois submitted briefs in Federal District Court outlining why a motion for temporary restraining order against the issuance of the 185 Illinois adult use dispensary licenses should be quashed. In this case, Toigo v. Treto, the plaintiffs argue Illinois’ license residency requirements create a special class, which is not allowed under the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution’s 14th Amendment, an argument Mark Toigo successfully used in federal court in Missouri, and other plaintiffs have been successful with the argument in two other federal courts in Detroit and Portland, Me.
Attorneys for Illinois threw in a kitchen sink full of arguments why Mr. Toigo and his co-plaintiff, Juan Finch, have no standing, but primarily because Toigo and Finch failed to apply for a license when everyone else had a chance two years ago. Although this case is now before a different judge in a different circuit, in Detroit the successful plaintiff had not submitted an application either.
Arguments for and against the restraining order will be heard in person next Friday, April 22.