Green Rose Dispensary representatives Monday sent out a press release stating that GRI Holdings, operating under the Green Rose Dispensary name, filed a lawsuit in the Circuit Court of Cook County to stop another social equity cannabis dispensary from opening in River North at the old Rainforest Café location. The lawsuit against the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation claims BioPharm proposed Consume Cannabis dispensary at 605 N. Clark Street is within 1,500 feet of GRI’s existing dispensary at 612 N. Wells Street, which Green Rose argues violates the Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act (CRTA).
GRI Holdings claims the CRTA prohibits cannabis dispensaries from locating within 1,500 feet of another cannabis dispensary to avoid neighborhoods from becoming overrun with dispensaries and to keep them economically viable. The complaint asks for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief against the IDFPR and alleges the state agency is illegally revising the guidelines of the law in order to give BioPharm the green light to circumvent and violate the 1,500-foot rule by allowing them to open a dispensary at 605 N. Clark Street.
Because of extremely long delays in issuing social equity licenses, social equity groups were unable to compete with multi-state operators in securing prime locations for dispensaries. In order to even the playing field for social equity dispensaries, the Illinois General Assembly gave social equity licensees a narrow exception to the 1,500 feet rule allowing them to locate in the same areas where the multi-state operators set up stores. According to the complaint, that does not include allowing a social equity dispensary to open up within 1,500 feet of another social equity dispensary.
Twelve Illinois Lawmakers who were instrumental in crafting Illinois’s cannabis legislation also sent a letter to IDFPR saying the agency’s “new” guidance regarding the 1,500-foot rule do not reflect the intent of the state law and could harm the social equity dispensaries by fostering an overly competitive environment that could harm the growth and success of these new businesses. The letter stated, “The CRTA initially had a rule that banned any dispensary from being located within 1,500 feet of another dispensary to avert local market saturation and facilitate healthy competition. Due to extremely long delays in issuing social equity licenses, social equity groups were unable to compete with multi-state operators (MSOs), whose licenses were issued years earlier, in securing prime locations.”
The letter continued by stating, “recent guidance from the IDFPR is fundamentally misaligned with the legislative intent of the carve-out in the CRTA. It was explicitly intended to allow social equity dispensaries to locate within 1,500 feet of non-social equity licensees, thus promoting healthy competition and a diverse market landscape. It was never envisioned to permit social equity licensees to set up within 1,500 feet of each other, as this would likely foster an overly competitive environment that could hamper the growth and success of these new enterprises. This crucial distinction seems to have been overlooked in the current guidance.”
“We have no idea as to why IDFPR has suddenly revised its guidelines,” said Jay Stewart, Compliance Director for GRI, “but it is a clear violation of the law in fact and in intent. The law is supposed to help social equity dispensaries not harm them. It was never envisioned to permit social equity licensees to set up within 1,500 feet of each other, as this would likely foster an overly competitive environment that could harm the growth and success of these new businesses.”
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