The big Illinois news is that over the weekend Gov. J.B. Pritzker extended application deadlines for craft grower, cannabis infuser, and transporter licenses to April 30. Craft growers and infusers had already seen one extension, from March 16 to March 30, whereas transporter licenses were due today, March 30. 40 craft grower licenses, 40 infuser, and an unlimited number of transporter licenses will be issued starting July 1. Then, starting July 1, 2021 up to 60 more craft growers and 60 more infusers could receive licenses.
Predictably, the news has attracted widely diverging views, depending on your position in the industry.
Pam Altoff, Executive Director of the Cannabis Business Association of Illinois (CBAI), which represents most of the existing growers and dispensaries, applauded the Governor’s weekend announcement and says she was working with his team.
“Nobody would have anticipated the stay-at-home order, but it did prohibit a lot of applications for companies incubating social equity companies from finishing their application process,” said Altoff. “And in my estimation, that’s where we needed to focus. If there’s a choice on where to draw the line, we should be working to increase access rather than limiting it over a situation we had no control over.”
Scott Redman, an attorney who is part of an independent craft grower applicant group, says moving the craft grower deadline a second time was unfair to applicants like his team, who he says was ready for the first, March 16, deadline.
“It’s a process that if you’re able to get it all done by the original deadline, shows your ability to accomplish a task,” said Redman. “I know there were a number of teams that had problems securing property in time and getting the appropriate zoning sign offs. The current health crisis really didn’t kick in, in terms of business restrictions, until nearly the first deadline [March 16]. Even when it did kick in, recorders’ offices, title companies, and so on, were still functioning, and largely still are to some degree.
“A better reaction from the state should have been: If you don’t have an important component, apply with an explanation and we’ll send you a deficiency notice, but then show how the COVID-19 shutdown prevented you to get that component. And then you could provide that feature by the 30th of April,” said Redman.
An additional month for an application is enough time to put together an entire application from a standing start, if you’re well capitalized, says Redman. Altoff disagrees. “I think we’ll still receive the number we were anticipating for our social equity applications,” she said.