Next round of Illinois weed dispensary licenses awarded after years of delay – Chicago Sun-Times

Illinois regulators on Friday issued 149 cannabis dispensary licenses that promise to more than double the number of pot shops statewide, ending nearly a year of delays for budding weed entrepreneurs who finally have the green light to prepare their storefronts.

The conditional adult use dispensing organization licenses are the first new ones to be passed around by Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s administration since marijuana was legalized with his signature in 2019 and sales started in 2020.

Illinois’ troubled licensing rollout has hit snag after legal snag since then, with a steady flow of lawsuits amid criticism that a system designed to promote diversity in the industry has given way to corporate pot giants dominating a market with 110 dispensaries currently in operation.

The first companies to get a foothold all had been previously licensed by the state as medical marijuana dispensaries.

The 149 new so-called social equity licensees — meaning they were chosen with an eye toward racial or other diversity — were among 185 such applicants who won a convoluted series of lotteries ending last summer for the coveted licenses.

But after a pair of applicants sued over the state’s grading system, a Cook County judge ordered state officials to hold off on issuing

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