Illinois Supreme Court Maintains Hold on Issuing New Cannabis Licenses

The Illinois Supreme Court blocked an appeal by a prospective craft cannabis licensee asking the court to lift the state’s hold on new cannabis industry licenses.

Full story after the jump.

The Illinois Supreme Court has blocked an appeal by a prospective craft cannabis licensee asking the court to lift the state’s hold on issuing a batch of new licenses, the Chicago Tribune reports.

The Illinois cannabis licensing issues stem from the round of licenses awarded by the state via lottery in the summer of 2021 — after the state awarded 40 licenses, 13 applicants filed lawsuits contesting the results due to concerns about the state’s social equity requirements. In response to the lawsuits, the court ordered the state to stop issuing more licenses; however, the 40 licenses granted over the summer have gotten the go-ahead to move forward, the Tribune noted.

Filed by 1837 Craft Grow LLC, the appeal sought to allow another 47 licenses to move forward with 13 remaining on hold. Applicants testified at the appeal that the pause was costing them tens of thousands of dollars to keep employees, landlords, and investors happy. The court neither elaborated on why it blocked the request nor gave insight on how long the pause would be maintained, according to the report.

Ryan Holz, who filed the appeal and previously criticized the state for its secrecy around the licensing process, said the court action will harm dozens of licensees waiting to start their businesses.

“Unfortunately, this is the current reality for craft grow applicants in Illinois, No one with the ability to help them is willing to do so.” — Holz, via the Tribune

Illinois’ adult-use cannabis market is largely dominated by a handful of multi-state operators who made the leap from medical cannabis to the adult-use market. Recognizing the lack of diversity in the industry, Illinois created new social equity licenses and held the 2021 lottery to issue 60 more licenses. In addition to the licenses currently on hold, another 185 licenses have been pushed back while the case makes its way through the courts.

“From the very beginning of the cannabis legalization and licensing process, the administration has prioritized clarity and an ongoing commitment to establishing an industry that is accessible to Illinoisans of all backgrounds,” Charity Greene, a spokeswoman for Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s (D) administration, said in the report. “We will continue to work with applicants, stakeholders, and our partners in the judicial system to achieve that goal.”

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