Illinois Gives First ‘Same-Site’ Cannabis Dispensary Licenses to 5 Dispensaries

The same company operates all five of the recreational marijuana dispensaries.
Illinois Gives First ‘Same-Site’ Cannabis Dispensary Licenses to 5 Dispensaries

The first five recreational cannabis dispensary licenses have been announced in Illinois. The same publicly-traded corporation snapped them all up: Green Thumb Industries, which has licenses to sell adult-use marijuana at five of its seven locations that are currently focused on selling medical cannabis in Mundelein, Joliet, Naperville, Canton, and Effingham.

Green Thumb Industries is headquartered in Chicago and operates 95 retail locations and 13 manufacturing industries across Illinois. Earlier this week it reported that its revenue during the last business quarter was up 228 percent from the same time period last year.

“GTI is thrilled that our five stores received the state of Illinois’ first approvals for ‘same-site’ adult use cannabis licenses,” Linda Marsicano, spokesperson for the company, told a local news site. “We look forward to continuing the excellent partnerships we have in the communities we serve across the state.”

Illinois’ first recreational licensing announcement sets an early tone for an industry that is largely centered on larger corporations, though that might be disproved depending on the next businesses to which the state grants licenses to sell cannabis.

Perhaps to counteract this impression, Green Thumb has announced plans to form what it calls the Illinois Social Equity License Application Assistance Program, a consultation program geared toward cannabis entrepreneurs of color and others who have been unfairly targeted by law enforcement’s war on drugs.

The five Green Thumb Industries locations in question may now sell recreational cannabis at the same site, as well as open another location that is dedicated to sales of such adult-use cannabis.

Of course, that’s if the towns in which they are located give them the go-ahead. The country’s first successful piece of cannabis legalization legislation, which passed in Illinois earlier this year (other states have legalized weed through voter referendum), ensured that local municipalities not only had the power to establish their own cannabis tax (up to three percent) but also to veto recreational marijuana in their jurisdiction — even if they are currently the site of businesses that sell medicinal weed.

At least one of the towns where Green Thumb has been licensed to sell recreational pot has expressed serious concern. In Naperville, a group of citizens have formed the Opt Out Naperville campaign to block recreational marijuana from coming to their town. While city council members declined to pass a resolution that would have banned such sales last week, Opt Out Naperville appears unfazed and has called for an anti-weed rally to take place on Saturday, prior to another meeting on Tuesday at which the city council will further consider the issue.

In regards to the other towns that have been tapped for recreational sales so far, Canton and Joliet have expressed enthusiasm over the prospect, while Effingham and Mundelein are still undecided.

If jurisdictions do decide to ban recreational sales, it seems as though the licensed medical dispensaries will not be able to change location without using their same-site recreational and medicinal sales approval.

Governor J.B. Pritzker and other officials have expressed a desire to make sure that there are an appropriate number of dispensaries open when recreational sales become operational on January 1. The Department of Financial and Professional Regulation has a tight 14-day deadline for granting or denying same-site recreational permits from medical license holders, though there is no such deadline for medicinal applicants looking to open separate second locations to sell recreational cannabis.

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