Illinois has fewer legal cannabis dispensaries than any state, including Nevada, which has 9.7 million fewer people, according to the 2018 census. Even if Illinois brought all 110 currently allowed licenses, and the 75 second round of licenses on board immediately, it would still have fewer dispensaries than Michigan, which has 1.8 million fewer people than Illinois.
With fewer dispensaries in Illinois, more sales are concentrated in fewer hands, cannabis prices remain higher, and the illegal market likely has a larger unserved population than in states with more dispensaries.
Illinois’ Cannabis Czar Toi Hutchinson says dispensary license approval delays are in service of improving social equity applicant opportunities. But as delays mount up – the next 75 licenses were supposed to be awarded in May – if social equity applicants are not able to built successful businesses this year, there will likely be a mighty political price for Gov. J.B. Pritzker.