Illinois Cannabis Business Licenses – What’s Happening Now?

Illinois Cannabis Business Licenses – What’s Happening Now?

Maxime Kot

In August 2021, Illinois had its second highest sales month since the state launched its recreational cannabis market in 2020, exceeding $120 million in adult-use sales. This is the sixth month in a row that recreational sales have surpassed $100 million, putting Illinois on track to accrue more than $1 billion in adult-use marijuana sales this year.

Illinois has had a legal medical marijuana market for qualified patients since 2013, and on June 25, 2019, Gov. Pritzker signed the Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act, officially legalizing adult-use marijuana in Illinois.


Dispensary License Lottery Issues

Under the Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act, Illinois limited adult use dispensary licenses to 500 statewide. The program planned to award up to 75 adult-use dispensary licenses along with an approved 50 existing medical cannabis dispensary licensees that would serve both the medical and recreational market in 2020. However, during the initial application only 21 applicants were chosen to proceed to the final lottery phase. This came under scrutiny with multiple lawsuits filed by unsuccessful applicants and licensing was further delayed due to COVID-19.

In response to the lawsuits, the Department provided the opportunity for unsuccessful applicants to resubmit their applications for a potentially lottery slot.

In July 2021, the Department announced it would issue a total of 185 dispensary licenses through multiple lotteries after more than a year of waiting. A July 29th drawing issued 55 dispensary licenses for applications who scored 85 percent or higher and an August 5th drawing issued another 55 dispensary licenses for social equity applicants harmed by cannabis criminalization. The third and final lottery concluded on August 19th.

Due to continued legal battles, a fourth lottery for dispensary licenses will be held giving six applicant groups a chance to win additional permits after being excluded from drawings in an earlier lottery. Furthermore, the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation plans to issue 50 more dispensary licenses in 2022, under a new application process designed to avoid the problematic issues faced this year.


Illinois Craft Grower and Infuser Licenses

In addition to the adult-use dispensary licenses, Illinois will issue up to 60 additional cannabis craft grower licenses by December 21, 2021. A craft grower can grow cannabis plants, dry, cure, package, and process cannabis infused products. The licenses also allow for wholesale to other licensed Illinois Cannabis Businesses. The state will have a remaining 50 craft grower licenses that will be issued when deemed necessary.

The Illinois infuser licenses have no state-wide limits, however the state issued only 40 licenses in 2020 and an additional 60 licenses will be awarded by December 2021. Illinois infusers can incorporate cannabis concentrates into cannabis-infused products.


Illinois Adult-Use License Applicants

For cannabis stakeholders and entrepreneurs interested in adult-use license opportunities in Illinois, contact the CB Advisors team today to learn how to get started.

We have successfully secured licenses for clients in over 20 markets across the United States. If you are interested in applying for a cannabis business license in Illinois, contact us by phone at (602)-290-9424‬ or email ( for more information.




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