CHICAGO — The owners of a Highland Park medicinal cannabis dispensary filed a federal lawsuit last week asking a judge to confirm a deal they signed to sell out to a Arizona-based chain of dispensaries is no longer valid.
Elevele LLC, the operator of the dispensary at 1460 Old Skokie Valley Road since March 2016, is 97 percent owned by Veronica and Andrew Hunt of Lake Forest. William Riley, also of Lake Forest, owns the other 3 percent. The firm has sued Harvest Enterprises, Inc., of Tempe, which owns more than a dozen retail cannabis locations in five states and announced the pending acquisition of several others earlier this year, according to the lawsuit.
The two companies signed a purchase agreement on March 25, before the Illinois General Assembly passed a law legalizing the recreational use of cannabis and permitting existing licensed medical marijuana dispensaries to have a one-year monopoly on the newly created commercial market.
Around the same time, Harvest announced the pending acquisition of Chicago-based Verano Holdings, giving it the rights to acquire additional dispensaries in Effingham, Harvest, Norwood Park and St. Charles, according to the suit. It also alleged Harvest’s CEO, Steve White, has ownership of another existing Illinois cannabis dispensary.
The contract included a clause allowing for it to be terminated if a series of conditions were not met by 90 days after its effective date, which was June 23.
In its suit, Elevele alleged that Harvest breached the agreement by planning to acquire the rights to more than five licenses — the maximum allowed by a single entity under Illinois law.
“Between the signing of the Purchase Agreement and June 23, 2019, Harvest did not take adequate or reasonable steps with the [Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation, which administers cannabis licenses,]