While most of the attention remains focused on recently announced Illinois dispensary license application results, another wave of applicants is awaiting State licensing decisions that were originally due by July 1, 2020. The delays are causing significant harm to these applicants, particularly those who qualify for social equity status, as they bleed cash and struggle to retain necessary property, zoning, and staff.
“The Illinois Craft Cannabis Association calls on the State of Illinois to immediately issue craft grower, infuser, and transportation licenses including scoring details and all other relevant information. The only way to staunch the pain and end speculation about the integrity of the cannabis licensing process is to bring everything into the sunlight,” said Paul Magelli, President, Illinois Craft Cannabis Association (ICCA).
“We just want people to know we’re still out here waiting.” said a social equity craft grower applicant that wished to remain anonymous. “We want to remind the State that the time to worry about social equity is before a company goes bankrupt. No amount of reassurances and good intentions from the Administration is going to satisfy our creditors.”
While only 40 craft grower and 40 infuser licenses are at stake, the economic damage of licensing delays is much wider. In addition to the future licensees, hundreds of other groups and small family businesses that will not receive a license are continuing to invest significant time and money while the seemingly endless process drags on. A survey of applicants conducted by the ICCA in September suggests that a majority are at risk of losing their property, zoning or staff as soon as October.
“The expectation that applicants continue to invest, throwing ‘good after bad’, because of the State’s delays is simply unreasonable,” said Paul Magelli. “If the State does not immediately issue licenses, financial relief must be provided to applicants.”
A few of the many examples of the pain social equity applicants face as a result of the State’s licensing delays - an applicant:
invested $40,000 of friends’, family’s, and their own money to secure a property and have been paying $10,000 per month - totaling more than $100,000 - to hold the property for a facility they may, or may not, ever build;
received conditional zoning approval on a secured location that required months of effort and expense that will expire and may not be renewable; and
hired and trained a team of employees, spending $20,000 per month, totaling more than $120,000. The staff are ready to begin operations but delays have them questioning whether they can afford to wait.