Illinois Judge Blocks Effort to Resume Cannabis Licensing

An Illinois judge has ruled that Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s decision to delay issuing 40 craft cannabis cultivation licenses amid the pandemic is lawful, the Chicago Tribune reports. The plaintiffs, the Illinois Craft Cannabis Association, had argued that the governor’s decision broke the law requiring the permits to be issued by July 1.

Judge Allen Walker determined that Pritzker’s initial emergency order citing pandemic-related delays in reviewing the applications was insufficient to delay the issuance of the licenses under the law. However, Walker ruled that a subsequent executive order explaining the delay was necessary because the pandemic had forced agriculture officials to concentrate on the food supply chain, and oversight of the state’s meat and livestock facilities was valid. The Illinois Department of Agriculture is responsible for reviewing the cannabis licenses.

Meatpacking facilities in the state were hit hard by the virus in April and May.

“While (the later order) does not explicitly say: ‘IDOA’s issuing cannabis licenses by the (deadline) would have the effect of diverting needed resources from the pandemic effort thus making it more difficult for the governor to cope with the COVID-19 crisis …’ that is the point implicitly being made.” – Judge Walker in the decision, via the Tribune

The administration has also delayed issuing cannabis infuser and transporter licenses, and licenses for 75 new adult-use cannabis dispensaries, which were to be awarded May 1 under the law.

Paul Magelli, spokesman for the Illinois Craft Cannabis Association, said the organization is “considering an appeal given the weakness of the judge’s order.”

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