US (IL): Grower sues Illinois over latest cannabis social equity licensing plan

A new federal lawsuit aims to halt a series of newly announced lotteries to determine the winners of 185 upcoming pot shop permits, marking the latest threat to the state’s troubled cannabis licensing process.

Sozo Health, a Michigan-based pot firm that applied for 11 licenses, filed the suit late last week — just a day after Gov. J.B. Pritzker enacted a law that seeks to get the long-delayed process back on track. That same day, Pritzker’s administration also announced the dates for three lotteries to determine the winners of the new licenses, the first of which was set for July 29.

Sozo’s suit, filed in federal court in Chicago Friday against Pritzker and the acting director of the state agency that oversees dispensaries, now seeks to stop all three lottery drawings, claiming the state’s licensing rules are unfair. Pritzker’s office declined to comment on the pending litigation.

The suit targets a provision that awards five application points to Illinois residents, saying it’s discriminatory and runs afoul of state and federal laws. The suit also holds that Sozo is effectively being locked out of one of the lotteries based on updated qualifications for earning social equity status, a designation created to bolster diversity in the cannabis industry.


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