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Illinois Announces Extra Cannabis License Lottery

September 8, 2021 05:17 pm ET

Amidst a whirlwind of unrest surrounding the outcome of Illinois’ July cannabis lottery, the state has announced the opportunity for six additional applicants to obtain cannabis licenses through an extra cannabis license lottery. The application process for the original lottery, which took place on July 29, was recently found to contain clerical errors that prevented all applicants from having a fair shot at one of the 185 new licenses the state planned to give out.

The Illinois cannabis lottery allows residents interested in operating cannabis dispensaries to apply for one of the limited numbers of licenses available, per state legislation that permits up to 500 new cannabis licenses total. Out of 937 businesses that began the tedious application process last year, just 21 earned perfect scores in their attempts to qualify for the initial lottery. A responsive outbreak of lawsuits by unchosen applicants shed light on a number of alleged issues, such as the claim that identical applications were scored differently. The following investigation by regulators revealed mistakes in the lottery process due to “clerical oversight in terms of data entry,” according to the state’s senior cannabis advisor, Toi Hutchinson.

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As reparations for the errors, the state passed legislation creating two additional lotteries in which applications could qualify with a score of 85 percent or better. Nonetheless, objecting applicants continue to claim the lottery favors white, politically connected, wealthy applicants with its allowance of unlimited applications for those who can afford the $5,000 fee for each one, according to the Chicago Tribune. As the legal battle drudges on, a Cook County judge has ordered the state to hold off on granting licenses to the winners of the July lottery.

While the previously denied applicants are not guaranteed selection in the extra lottery, they will have the same odds of winning as they would have had in the initial drawings. According to Hutchinson, regulators have been acting to correct errors in the lottery process as they discover them. Although the Illinois cannabis industry is still majority white-owned, each amendment to the lottery process takes the state one step closer to an accessible system for all.

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