Illinois is holding another cannabis license lottery for previous applicants that were erroneously denied opportunities in previous rounds due to what Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s top cannabis advisor called “clerical oversight in terms of data entry,” the Chicago Tribune reports. Toi Hutchinson, Pritzker’s cannabis advisor, said that as regulators discovered errors in the licensing process, they acted to correct them.
“It’s been painful to watch how long this has taken. As we move forward, this could get better every single year.”— Hutchinson to the Tribune
Out of 937 businesses that submitted 4,518 applications to Illinois last year, just 21 of them earned perfect scores to qualify them for an initial lottery. Losing applicants objected and filed lawsuits, claiming the scoring by consultant KPMG saw different scores for identical application information, the report says. Regulators last month announced more than 50 license winners from three lotteries but there are still seven pending legal challenges that could affect the final outcome. In one case, a Cook County judge ordered the state not to award any of the licenses until the court rules on one case in which applicants challenged the scoring process.
The state attempted to rectify the cannabis licensing issues by passing a law that created two additional lotteries for applicants that scored 85% or better on their application; however, some applicants still argued that that the process unfairly favored white, politically connected, and wealthy applicants by allowing unlimited applications for those who could pay the $5,000 fee for each application, the report says.
Hutchinson told the Tribune that of 79 new licenses awarded to cannabis craft growers, infusers, and transporters last month, 43% went to black-owned firms. She also noted that the state’s cannabis industry is still almost completely white-owned.
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