This week, the Illinois Department of Financial & Professional Regulation (IDFPR) released its Annual Cannabis Report for fiscal year 2022. One of the most glaring highlights from the report include the fact that IDFPR “was unable to issue licenses related to the lotteries held in June, July, and August of 2021.” The lack of new licenses in turn stopped any growth in the total number of dispensing organization owners that were Social Equity Applicants or minority persons, women, or persons with disabilities.
For fiscal year 2022, the total number dispensing organization owners that were majority owned by Social Equity Applicants was zero. The total number dispensing organization owners that were majority owned by people of color was zero. The total number dispensing organization owners that were owned by persons with disabilities was zero. The total number dispensing organization owners that were majority owned by women was one.
The annual cannabis report, however, added that “190 new Conditional Adult Use Dispensing Organization Licenses have been issued in FY2023 with all Conditional Adult Use Dispensing Organization Licenses being scheduled to be converted into Adult Use Dispensing Organization Licenses in FY2023.” According to the report, “this represents an increase of more than 100% of new licenses. In FY2022, the Department continued the application process started in FY2020 by holding lotteries for Qualifying Applicants, Social Justice Applicants, and Tied Applicants, selecting 185 entities to receive licenses. These 185 entities were the first social equity applicants to be selected in the history of the program. In the beginning of FY2023 the court order staying the issuance of these 185 licenses was lifted and the Department has issued 185 conditional licenses under the lotteries held in 2021 and 5 additional conditional licenses from corrective lotteries held in 2022.”
Statistics in the report related that 2,069 applications qualified for the Qualified Applicant Lotteries, 1,859 applications qualified for the Social Equity Justice Involved Lotteries, 705 applications qualified for the Tied Applicant Lotteries, 185 awardees majority owned by Social Equity Applicants (this data only reflects the lotteries held in the summer of 2021 and does not include the corrective lotteries), 26 awardees majority owned by women, 59 awardees majority owned by people of color, and 0 awardees majority owned by persons with disabilities.
The Annual Cannabis Report FY2022 also shared bullet points of “the following accomplishments from the last fiscal year:”
- The stay on the 185 Conditional Licenses issued in state court was lifted, allowing the first social equity applicants to begin the process of obtaining their licenses
- The Department collected a total of $7,168,200 from all cannabis sources, which can be used to fund the program moving forward
- Renewals for both Adult Use and Medical Cannabis Dispensing Organizations has been automated and put online, eliminating the need for printed documents that could total up to 500 pages per renewal
- Both the Adult Use and Medical Cannabis programs at IIDFPR have become more cohesive and standardized across the board leading to greater efficiency in processing applications, conducting inspections, and responding to inquiries
- The Adult Use and Medical Cannabis programs have been unified under a single Deputy Director of Cannabis Control allowing for consistency in the administration of both programs
- Forms have been simplified and combined between the Adult Use and Medical Cannabis programs to cut down on confusion and allow quick, reliable access for dispensaries and consumers alike
- Dispensaries are able to print their licenses on demand, allowing quick and easy access in the event a new copy of the license is needed
- Applications have been simplified and placed in the online portal, expanding access and allowing for a faster turnaround on processing
- Communication channels between the Department and the industry have been improved and strengthened, allowing for more collaboration
- Administrative processes, including badge terminations, renewals, and licensing have been streamlined for greater efficiency
- Functions that can be automated have been, reducing the amount of time spent on tasks from days to mere minutes
- Confirmation of both the Secretary of the Department and the Director of the Division of Professional Regulation by the Senate
For individuals, IDFPR has “processed more applications and granted more new licenses to agents, agents-in-charge, and principal officers than ever before. The Department is on track to issue even more of these licenses in FY2023, creating a wealth of new jobs in Illinois in an ever-expanding industry.”
In a summary, the report also stated IDFPR goals for fiscal year 2023, including the intention “to issue at least 185 new Adult Use Dispensing Organization Licenses, all of which qualify as social equity applicants. To complement these 185 new Adult Use Dispensing Organizations, the Department intends to continue to add to its staff to ensure each licensee is properly inspected and regulated. Finally, the Department intends to implement a new ‘Seed to Sale’ system and work with the Cannabis Regulation Oversight Office to begin the first disparity study.”
The Illinois Cannabis Social Equity Program was originally designed to offer disadvantaged people and communities of color disproportionately impacted by the war on drugs an opportunity to benefit from the cannabis industry. For more Illinois cannabis industry news, visit here.
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