Three Illinois marijuana applicants sue to be included in license lottery

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Three entities reportedly connected to marijuana multistate operator Justice Cannabis filed a federal lawsuit in Illinois claiming they have been wrongfully excluded from an Aug. 19 retail license lottery.

JG IL, Emerald Coast and ReNu filed the lawsuit against state regulators in the Northern District of Illinois in efforts to be included in next month’s licensing round.

Based on secretary of state business records, the three appear to be connected to Chicago-based Justice Cannabis, formerly known as Justice Grown. Other media also reported the connection.

Justice Cannabis has operations in eight states, including Illinois, according to the company’s website.

In the lawsuit, JG IL claims it should have qualified for the lottery based on plans to employ the majority of its workforce from a disproportionately impacted area.

Emerald Coast and ReNu claim they qualify as military veteran-owned businesses.

The plaintiffs say the state Department of Financial and Professional Regulation has denied hearing requests and that they will be “irreparably harmed” if hearings aren’t held in time to participate in the lottery.

After more than a yearlong delay amid litigation and the pandemic, Illinois is in the middle of licensing additional adult-use marijuana businesses in efforts to actualize what was once considered a social equity template for the industry.

– Jeff Smith