Cannabis licenses in Illinois: could hopeful social equity applicants see relief Soon

The 2019 Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act provided the authority for the Illinois Department of Agriculture (the “IDOA”) and the Illinois Department of Financing and Professional Regulation (the “IDFPR”) to issue additional adult-use craft grower, infuser, transporter, and dispensary licenses. Each Department developed an application process for each license type to be graded by a third-party contractor. KPMG was awarded the contract to score the license applications. The award of several categories of licenses has been inhibited by a number of lawsuits. We have provided a brief summary of the status of each license category and the corresponding litigation below.

Craft Grow Licenses
The state of Illinois had initially planned to issue up to 60 new craft grower licenses on December 21, 2021, pursuant to the licensing application process developed by the IDOA in accordance with the 2019 Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act. However, those plans were foiled due to an injunction issued by Cook County Judge Neil Cohen on November 22, 2021, restraining the Department of Agriculture from announcing or issuing the licenses.

The Illinois Supreme Court consolidated four cases that affected fourteen craft grow applications and one case including the 60 licenses mentioned above. The consolidated case had its first substantive hearing on December 14, 2021, before Sangamon County Judge Gail Noll on several motions.  The state argued that Judge Cohen overstepped his jurisdictional bounds by issuing the stay when handling ia GP LLC v. IL Dept. of Agriculture (“ia GP”) and advanced motion to dismiss made on the grounds that regulators should be allowed to issue licenses before the court makes rulings on the process. Upon review, Judge Noll found no error of law with respect to Judge Cohen’s injunction and stay in ia GP and the motion to modify that injunction and stay was denied. Additionally, she ruled against the motion to dismiss reasoning on the grounds that the disqualifications issued by the state were a final administrative decision, therefore subject to judicial review.

Following additional hearings and briefings, on March 14, 2022, Judge Noll lifted the stay on the issuance of the additional 60 craft grow licenses and restored the application of the 11 applicants challenging their respective disqualification. The IDOA is currently reviewing applications for the issuance of additional licenses.

Read more at cannabislawnow.com


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