Judge says ruling on dispensary licenses may take at least 18 months
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.
- There are almost no minority-owned dispensaries out of the 110 retail stores currently operating in Illinois.
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.
- But some are worried about incurring massive amounts of debt before they ever get to open their doors.
What's next: The next hearing is expected in May.
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