Illinois to hold lottery for retail cannabis licenses later this month

Did you miss the webinar “Women Leaders in Cannabis: Shattering the Grass Ceiling?” Head to MJBiz YouTube to watch it now!

(This story has been corrected to note the lottery is expected later this month.) 

Applicants for retail cannabis licenses in Illinois will be awarded in a lottery later this month, after all 17 regions saw only about 20 companies given perfect scores on their applications – meaning they tied for the permits.

Twenty-one qualifying applicants for the 75 new licenses were informed of the lottery after 1,667 applications were graded, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.

The tied applicants will get one entry into the lottery for each application fee paid, with the maximum entries equaling the number of licenses available in that region.

The lottery move seems to have rattled the industry, as many thought the licenses would be spread out among the larger pool of applicants – and not less than two dozen companies.

“I am shocked that the state went in this direction,” said Michael Mayes, a Chicago-based cannabis consultant. “It seems like the state is trying to avoid litigation at all costs.”

All the tied applicants qualify as social equity candidates.

According to the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation, of the qualifying applicants:

  • 17 have at least one minority owner.
  • 13 are majority-owned by minorities.
  • 16 have at least one female owner.
  • Two-thirds have at least one person involved with the business who has lived in an area disproportionately impacted by the war on drugs for five of the last 10 years.

Roughly 50 of the permits will be awarded in the Chicago area.