Illinois delays awarding 75 recreational marijuana licenses

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Illinois will postpone the allocation of 75 additional business licenses for adult-use cannabis stores because of the coronavirus emergency, meaning existing operators will remain in command of the fast-growing market for the time being.

The delay beyond the original May 1 award date was expected because Illinois’ governor issued a modified stay-at-home order that begins May 1 and runs through the end of the month. The order has been challenged in the courts.

The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation announced the licensing delay Wednesday and said the move will be formalized in an executive order by Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker.

Marijuana businesses have been declared essential in Illinois, however, and rec sales have been brisk, hitting $110 million in the first three months of the year.

It’s uncertain when the retail rec licenses eventually will be awarded and even more uncertain when the stores will open. The state received more than 700 applications for the business licenses.

Applicants that eventually win licenses will have 180 days to secure a location if they haven’t already, and then there’s the process of building out and preparing facilities for the public and passing inspections.

One applicant recently told Marijuana Business Daily he wouldn’t be surprised if some of the additional licensed stores don’t open until the latter half of 2021 or even 2022 because of a tight investment climate, a likely recession and a potential product shortage.

The state also was scheduled to award 40 craft grower and 40 processor licenses by July 1.

But that application deadline already has been extended to April 30, so it’s likely that licensing process will be delayed as well.

For more of Marijuana Business Daily’s ongoing coverage of the coronavirus pandemic and its effects on the cannabis industry, click here.