Lawsuit Challenging Illinois Cannabis Social Equity Licensing Dropped

The lawsuit filed by a Michigan cannabis company that could have stopped Illinois’ cannabis licensing lottery has been voluntarily dropped.

Full story after the jump.

Sozo Illinois Inc., a Michigan cannabis company whose lawsuit temporarily halted the Illinois cannabis license lottery, has voluntarily dropped its challenge, according to the Chicago Tribune. The move came on the same day that Illinois Black and Latino cannabis advocates held a news conference asking SoZo to drop the lawsuit.

Sozo Illinois indicated they withdrew the lawsuit after hearing from other social equity applicants, describing the decision as “difficult” but still characterizing the new licensing structure as a “deeply flawed and unconstitutional process.”

Edie Moore, Chicago NORML executive director, called the lawsuit “a distraction that showed a complete disregard to people working in the Illinois cannabis industry as social and racial advocates.”

The lawsuit retraction set the stage for the first of three license lotteries on July 29, a process delayed by a year due to the coronavirus pandemic and social equity concerns. The next license lotteries will be held on August 13 and August 19, the report says.

In their lawsuit, SoZo claimed the new law unfairly discriminated against out-of-state applicants and dropped a bonus point system which awarded firms that hired applicants who were most negatively impacted by the War on Drugs. SoZo also alleged that Illinois politics is “marred by backroom self-dealing between politically connected and powerful factions that undermines the supposed benefits to the public.”

Charity Greene, a spokesperson for Gov. JB Pritzker (D), said in a statement that “the top priority for the Pritzker administration remains establishing a legal cannabis industry in Illinois that is equitable and reflects the diversity of communities across the state.”

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