The state of Illinois legalized both adult-use and medical cannabis. Persons 21 years and older may purchase and possess cannabis, while registered patients have access to medical cannabis. Access to cannabis is through state licensed businesses that are allowed to grow, manufacture and sell cannabis.
Learn more about how to get an Illinois cannabis business license or schedule a complimentary consultation with our licensing team, below.
When To Apply
NUMBER OF ILLINOIS MARIJUANA BUSINESS LICENSES AVAILABLE
There are state-wide limits for each type of marijuana business allowed to operate in Illinois. Currently, only adult-use marijuana business licenses are available. The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) plans to issue 55 conditional licenses, under a new application process, to be distributed across the existing 17 BLS Regions detailed in the CRTA. The application process for the conditional licenses is anticipated to open in the late summer or early fall of 2022. More information on each type of license outlined below.
Adult-Use Marijuana Businesses in Illinois:
Illinois Adult-Use Cultivation License: can grow cannabis plants, dry, cure, package, process cannabis-infused products, and sell wholesale to other licensed Illinois cannabis businesses. A Cultivation center may contain up to 210,000 square feet of canopy space. There is a limit of 30 adult-use cultivation licenses allowed within the state. At this time, there are 21 licensed early approval adult-use cultivation centers. Early approval for adult use cultivation centers was reserved for existing medical cannabis cultivation licensees. Furthermore, the regulating department is not authorized to license any additional adult-use cultivation centers until July 1, 2021.
Illinois Craft Grower License: can grow cannabis plants, dry, cure, package, process cannabis-infused products, and sell wholesale to other licensed Illinois Cannabis Businesses. A craft grower may contain up to 5,000 square feet of canopy space on its premises for cultivating plants that are more than 5 inches tall. The number of craft-grower licenses shall not exceed 150 statewide. The state accepted applications from February – April 2020 to award 40 Craft Grower Licenses but suspended the announcements of the 40 successful applicants due to COVID-19. The 40 licenses were finally issued in August 2021. By December 21, 2021, the state will issue up to 60 additional cannabis craft grower licenses, leaving a remaining 50 craft grower licenses to be awarded when the state deems necessary.
Illinois Infuser License: can incorporate cannabis concentrates into cannabis-infused products. There are no state-wide limits on the number of infuser licenses, however, the state shall issue only 40 licenses in 2020 and 60 licenses in by Dec 2021. The state accepted applications from February – April 2020 to award 40 Infuser Licenses but suspended the announcements of the 40 successful applicants due to COVID-19. The 40 licenses were finally issued in August 2021. By December 21, 2021, the state will issue up to 60 additional cannabis infuser licenses.
Illinois Adult-Use Dispensary License: can purchase cannabis from licensed cultivation centers and infusers, and sell cannabis to persons 21 years and older. The number of adult-use dispensary licenses allowed statewide shall not exceed 500. Currently, over 40 existing medical cannabis dispensary licenses are approved to cater to the adult-use market. For new businesses, the state accepted applications in Jan 2020 to award up to 75 dispensary licenses by May 2020, however, only 21 applicants were chosen to proceed to the final phase: a lottery to award the dispensary licenses. Due to lawsuits filed against the state from applicants, the state ended up issuing a total of 185 dispensary licenses through 3 separate lotteries held from July – August 2021. The state plans to issue an additional 50 dispensary licenses in 2022.
Medical Marijuana Businesses in Illinois:
Illinois Medical Cannabis Cultivation: can grow cannabis plants, extract and manufacture cannabis-infused products, and sell wholesale to other licensed Illinois Medical Cannabis Businesses. There is a limit of 22 medical cannabis cultivation licenses allowed within the state. All 22 medical cannabis cultivation licenses were awarded in 2014, and the state is no longer issuing additional medical cannabis cultivation licenses in Illinois.
Illinois Medical Cannabis Dispensary: can purchase cannabis from licensed cultivation facilities and sell cannabis to qualifying patients with a valid medical marijuana card. There is a limit of 60 medical cannabis dispensary licenses allowed within the state. All 60 medical cannabis dispensary licenses were awarded in 2014, and the state is no longer issuing additional medical cannabis dispensary licenses in Illinois.
HOW TO START A MARIJUANA BUSINESS IN ILLINOIS
To operate a marijuana business in Illinois, you will need the following plans:
- Security Plan
- Environmental Impact Plan
- Quality Control and Quality Assurance Plan
- Business Plan
- Financial Plan
- Community Benefits Plan
- Research Plan
- Cultivation, Manufacturing and/or Dispensing Plan
- Labor Compliance Plan
- Staffing and Training Plan
Schedule for a complimentary 15-min consult with our licensing/application expert to learn more about how we may be able to assist you.
ENHANCED OVERVIEW OF MARIJUANA IN ILLINOIS
Medical Marijuana in Illinois:
The Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act legalized medical marijuana for Illinois’ qualified patients in 2013. The act establishes a patient registry program, protects registered qualifying patients and registered designated caregivers from “arrest, prosecution, or denial of any right or privilege,” and allows for the registration of dispensing organizations and cultivation centers. In September of 2014, applicants were awarded 22 cultivation licenses and 60 dispensary licenses.
Recreational Marijuana in Illinois:
J.B. Pritzker was elected as the next governor of Illinois on November 6, 2018, one of Pritzker’s campaign promises was the legalization of cannabis, this focus was soon passed onto state lawmakers. By June 25, 2019, Gov. Pritzker signed into law the marijuana legalization legislation, known as the Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act. On January 1st, 2020, the Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act went into effect allowing Illinois residents 21 years of age and older to possess and use up to 30-grams of cannabis, along with the right to grow up to five (5) cannabis plants in each household. Non-residents 21 years of age and older would now be allowed to possess 15 grams of cannabis. Within this legislation, municipalities, employers, and landlords would be able to prohibit possession and use of cannabis. More importantly criminal records of citizens whose careers and futures had been harmed by a cannabis related conviction for low-level possession and dealing would be expunged.
The legalization of adult use cannabis does not alter the state’s medical cannabis pilot program. The new law will continue to limit the number of licenses and equity applicants will have an advantage. The application process will give additional points for diversity, diversity of ownership, diversity of workforce, and diversity of contractors hired. Conditional Adult-Use Dispensing Organization license applications were accepted between December 10, 2019 through January 2, 2020 by The Department of Financial and Professional Regulation.
On January 7, 2020, The Department of Agriculture released application material for Craft Grower, Transporter, and Infuser applications that were to be accepted February 14, 2020 through March 16, 2020. An issued Executive Order from Gov. JB Priztker extended these applications until April 30, 2020.
Read the full here: Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act.
ILLINOIS MARIJUANA TIMELINE
2013 – Illinois legalized medical cannabis.
2015 – First Illinois medical cannabis businesses opened.
2019 – Illinois legalized adult-use cannabis.
Dec 2019 – Jan 2020 – Illinois accepts applications for dispensary licenses.
Feb – April 2020 – Illinois accepts applications for craft grower, infuser and transport licenses.
2021 – Illinois second licensing period of adult-use cannabis businesses.
By Dec 2021 – Department to award additional 60 additional Craft Grower Licenses, 60 additional Infuser Licenses, and an additional 110 Adult Use Dispensary Licenses.
2022 – Department plans to issue 55 additional conditional licenses
2022 – The application process for the conditional licenses is anticipated to open in late summer or early fall of 2022.
January 2023 – Application process opens for Social Equity Lottery Applicants
April 2023 – Application process closes for Social Equity Lottery Applicants
May 2023 – Social Equity Lottery is held to award licenses
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