Pritzker not willing to overrule weed regulators in location fight—yet – Crain's Chicago Business

Gov. J.B. Pritzker doesn’t appear inclined to overrule the state agency in charge of licensing cannabis dispensaries.

Under the law that that legalizes recreational sales of marijuana on Jan. 1, the state’s 55 existing medical-use dispensaries can seek licenses to sell for recreational use. They also can seek licenses for additional locations.

The sponsors of the law sent Pritzker a letter last week, seeking some wiggle room on the location question.

An Illinois Dept. of Financial and Professional regulation said that the initial retail licenses would be available only at the medical dispensaries at the exact locations that existed when the law took effect July 1.

Cresco Labs, one of the largest cannabis operators, is seeking to move its medical dispensary in Wrigleyville to a much larger location three blocks away. It argues that some initial dispensaries are too small to accommodate medical demand now that eligibility has been expanded, let alone the exponential surge expected with recreational sales.

New dispensary licenses won’t be awarded until May. Critics of the law have grumbled that it gave a head start to existing medical marijuana companies. Pritzker is trying to walk that tightrope.

“(The bill) allows for early expansion by the existing medical dispensaries but, importantly, seeks to ensure that they do not completely dominate the new market before new dispensaries can enter the market in July 2020,” the governor wrote in a letter on Aug. 27. “Any implementation of the early approval program by the Department of Financial and Professional Regulation must maintain this balance between early growth and social equity that was written into the law.”

Steans and Cassidy had argued that legislators’ intent in writing the bill was not as literal as IDFPR’s view.

Lawmakers’ thinking, they wrote, was: “If a medical dispensary were to change their medical location, as

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