Two unsuccessful marijuana dispensary applicants are suing the state, hoping to hit the pause button on its plans to hand out 75 marijuana licenses.
Awarding of the licenses is more than four months behind schedule and last week, the state announced that only 21 of 700 applicants would proceed to a lottery for the 75 licenses.
Some lawmakers and unsuccessful applicants are decrying the state’s process, saying it defeats the stated goals of diversifying the largely white-owned industry. The lawsuit, filed Friday in Chicago federal court, is at least the second formal attempt to pause the process. The Illinois Legislative Black and Latino caucuses are calling on the Pritzker administration to suspend the lottery until the public can learn more about how and why the 21 groups were selected.
Southshore Restore and Heartland Greens, two applicants that will not proceed to the lottery, allege in the suit that the 21 groups are “politically-connected insider companies,” and seek to have the lottery delayed until they can challenge why they didn’t make the cut.
A pair of state lawmakers joined a group of losing pot shop applicants Tuesday to call on Gov. J.B. Pritzker to halt an upcoming lottery to determine the winners of the 75 long-delayed licenses and review the application grading process, which they claim was tainted and benefitted clouted firms.
“We are under the weather from this oppressive system, this rigged system, in which the state representatives and the state senators were lied to,” Rickey Hendon, a former Democratic state senator from Chicago, said during a news conference, noting that the “legislative intent” of the legalization law was to increase minority and local participation in the booming weed industry.
State law offers additional points on applications to groups and individuals deemed social