Groups push to delay lottery for Illinois marijuana retail licenses

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As often happens after winners of state cannabis licenses are announced, losing applicants for retail licenses in Illinois are going to court to delay awarding the permits.

Illinois announced finalists for 75 retail licenses last week, but only 21 total applicants scored high enough to make it, calling into question its intended effort toward social equity.

One lawsuit filed in federal court – Southshore Restore and Heartland Greens v. Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation – argues the state “proposes to give away 75 cannabis dispensary licenses collectively worth more than $1 billion dollars to a group of 21 companies, many if not most owned by politically-connected insiders.”

The plaintiffs contend there has been no transparency regarding the application review or scoring process, among other claims.

Separately, a social equity group in Illinois is contesting the scoring of applicants for the new cannabis retail licenses, calling on the governor to provide transparency in how the licenses were awarded.

According to Chicago TV station WLS, the Social Equity Empowerment Network asserts that only 13 of the 21 companies that scored perfectly and qualified for the license lottery are owned and controlled by people of color.

The group is calling on state regulators to delay the lottery.