With Mt. Carmel and Grayville having both opted in to allowing cannabis to be dispensed within city limits, the focus now shifts to the upcoming opening of the application process.

In a press release from the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation, it was announced that applications for new dispensing organizations can be found on the department’s website and that applications will be accepted starting Dec. 10 and must be submitted by 12 p.m. on Jan. 2, 2020.

The press release stated that following the Jan. 2 deadline that the department would be handing out 75 conditional use dispensing organization licenses, which will be awarded by May 1, 2020. 

Of the 75 licenses to be handed out next year, 47— which is over half of the total amount to be handed out— licenses have already been committed to the Chicago/Collar County region.

According to the IDFPR, these conditional use licenses do not entitle the holder to purchase or sell cannabis. After the license has been awarded to a dispensing organization that organization has 180 days to secure secure a location within its district, as defined by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

After the licensee has secured a suitable location, the dispensary has to pass an inspection by IDFPR and pay a $60,000 registration fee. Once those things have been completed, the department will award the license holder a full-access license which will permit them to obtain and sell cannabis.

As stated, the state will only be awarding 75 licenses for the entire state. The IDFPR stated in a press release that “only a certain number of licenses will be awarded in each of the 17 Bureau of Labor Statistics Regions in Illinois based on each region’s percentage of the state population.”

The area that both Grayville and Mt. Carmel are assigned to envelops 18 counties: Wabash, Edwards, Wayne, White, Hamilton, Franklin, Jefferson, Washington, Perry, Saline, Gallatin, Hardin, Pope, Massac, Johnson, Pulaski and Union. 

The issue? The IDFPR has designated this area to receive two conditional licenses for the entire 18-county spread.

However, there is a way for applicants to get a leg up on the competition. The organizations that fit the description of a Social Equity Applicant, as provided by the state, will have a 50 point advantage in the license selection process.

According to documents from the IDFPR, the department will rank applicants using the following scale: Suitability of Employee Training Plan (15 pts); Security and Record Keeping (65 pts); Business Plan, Financials, Operating Plan and Floor Plan (65 pts); Knowledge and Experience in Cannabis/Related Fields (30 pts); Status as a Social Equity Applicant (50 pts); Labor and Employment Practices (5 pts); Environmental Plan (5 pts); Illinois Owner (5 pts); Status as a Veteran (5 pts); Diversity Plan (5 pts).

In the IDFPR press release, Governor JB Pritzker stated, “As Illinois enters this next phase of its adult use cannabis program, we are committed to a process that is efficient, timely and, most critically, continues to place equity at the forefront.”

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