Lawsuit seeks to delay cannabis license lottery, alleges state picked 21 ‘politically-connected insider companies’

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.

The suit was filed against the state’s Department of Financial and Professional Regulation, which regulates dispensaries, and Bret Bender, deputy director of the Cannabis Control Section in the department. [Read more at Chicago Tribune]

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