Apr 26, 2022 - Business

Judge says ruling on dispensary licenses may take at least 18 months

Cannabis
Marijuana plants grow under lights at Cresco Labs' medical marijuana cultivation facility. Photo: Erin Hooley/Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

A Cook County judge signaled there won't be a quick end to the lawsuit that has prevented 185 social-equity applicants from starting dispensaries in Illinois.

Why it matters: When Illinois legalized marijuana in 2019, officials promised the program would be the most socially equitable in the country. But two years later, it's one of the worst.

Background: After a disorganized application process, would-be owners sued the state in 2021 citing unfair practices.

The latest: On Friday, a judge suggested it may take 18 months or more to decide the case and free up these licenses.

What they're saying: "There would not be a ruling on merits for many, many months, if not years out," said Judge Celia Gamrath of the Cook County circuit court.

The judge is pushing for a "corrective lottery" instead of ruling against the entire process.

The big picture: Many minority applicants have already spent big money on application fees, retaining services for lawyers and accountants, and renting space.

What's next: The next hearing is expected in May.

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