Illinois officials have finally awarded long-awaited adult-use cannabis dispensary licenses to the applicants selected in a series of licensing lotteries that were held last summer.

Gov. JB Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) issued 149 conditional licenses July 22 to business that qualify as Social Equity Applicants as defined in the state’s Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act, according to a press release from the governor’s office.

A full list of the awardees can be found here.

Forty-one percent of the awardees are majority Black-owned businesses, 7% are majority white-owned and 4% are majority Latino-owned, while 38% of the awardees did not disclose the ethnicity of their owners, according to the release.

“Illinois is leading the way in addressing the War on Drugs as no state has before, and dispensary ownership that reflects our state’s diversity is a product of that commitment,” Pritzker said in a public statement. “These licenses represent a significant step toward accountability for the decades of injustice preceding cannabis legalization. Illinois will continue to deliver on the promises of putting equity at the forefront of this process.”

Businesses awarded the conditional licenses last week now have 180 days to select a physical location for their storefront and obtain a full Adult Use Dispensing Organization License, according to the release.

Conditional licensees unable to find a suitable location within 180 days may request one 180-day extension.

“The release of these licenses means a transformation of the retail side of Illinois’ cannabis industry, creating more opportunities for individuals from all backgrounds to reap the benefits of legalization as employees and ancillary service providers,” IDFPR Secretary Mario Treto, Jr., said in a public statement. “These licensees continue to lay the groundwork for a cannabis industry more diverse and equitable than any other in the country. I am extremely proud of our team for their work over the past two years and look forward to working with these new business owners throughout the next stages of licensure.”

Regulators initially announced in May 2020 that 75 adult-use cannabis retail licenses would be available. In September 2020, they revealed that 21 Social Equity Applicants were chosen from a pool of more than 1,660 applications to participate in a lottery to win one of the 75 adult-use dispensary licenses.

Litigation ensued, and Pritzker ultimately unveiled a process for unsuccessful applicants to amend and resubmit their applications, or ask regulators to rescore them if they believed a mistake was made during the initial scoring process.

More legal trouble followed, and lawmakers ultimately stepped in to create 110 additional cannabis retail licenses in an attempt to remedy the situation.

Last year, in July 2021, Pritzker’s office announced that the state would award 185 total adult-use dispensary licenses—the 75 original licenses in addition to the 110 new ones—in a series of three lotteries last summer.

More litigation ensued, and the retail licenses were left in limbo as the lawsuits made their way through the legal system.

A judge ended a court order in May that allowed the state to move ahead with issuing the licenses, and in the meantime, IDFPR officials announced plans to simplify the cannabis retail licensing process moving forward.

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