Illinois: 75 cannabis shop licenses to be awarded in lottery that includes just 21 applicants; losing firms ‘shocked’

State officials announced Thursday the next round of long-delayed and highly sought after cannabis dispensary licenses will be awarded in a lottery later this month.

The 21 qualifying applicants for the 75 new licenses were informed after a global accounting firm finished grading 1,667 applications, according to the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation.

All those applicants received perfect scores and qualify as social equity candidates, meaning they were afforded a leg up in the application process as part of the state’s efforts to build diversity in an industry dominated by white men.

“We are extremely gratified that every license in this first round will go to a social equity applicant. … Equity has been at the center of this legislation from day one of negotiations, as we worked to create a system that prioritizes social equity applicants and reinvests revenues in communities hit hardest by the war on drugs,” said Toi Hutchinson, Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s key cannabis adviser.

Seventeen of the qualifying applicants have at least one minority owner, while 13 are majority owned by people of color, the IDFPR said. Sixteen have at least one owner who’s a woman. [Read more at Chicago Sun-Times]