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Craft grow licenses released from legal ties, Illinois could issue licenses soon 

Sixty new craft grow licenses could be issued by Illinois regulators in a matter of days, following a judge’s decision to lift both a stay and an injunction limiting the state from issuing licenses. 

The move comes following a hearing last week where last Thursday Sangamon County Circuit Judge Gail Noll resolved a consolidated case originally brought by over a dozen craft grow applicants. Tuesday morning, Judge Noll issued a final order for the case, resulting in a lift of both the stay she had put on the state, and an injunction issued last November by a previous judge handling part of the consolidated case.

The November injunction was left over from last Thursday’s hearing, requiring arguments in the form of paper briefings from the state and plaintiffs on whether or not it should be lifted. The plaintiff who had originally requested the injunction, iaGP LLC, a craft grow applicant owned by Chicago construction company owner Corneilius Griggs, did not enter a brief to the court, which Judge Noll specifically noted in her decision to lift the injunction.

Contacted for details on how soon the state will issue licenses, the Illinois Department of Agriculture failed to respond by publication.

The 60 new craft grow licenses will join 40 previously issued licenses that are already struggling to become operational. Craft growers complain that the license’s 5,000 square foot canopy limit is not large enough to be profitable and that either regulators or legislators should increase the limit to 14,000 square feet.

“I am excited for all the people released from purgatory, but I’m very concerned how this will work. Given the current state of regulation,” said Scott Redman, president of the Illinois Independent Craft Growers Association. Redman says his organization and others have had trouble getting basic permissions and filings through the Department of Agriculture, which regulates craft growers. 

“My craft grow has had pending requests for months,” he said. “We applied to have our location changed, and we got that approved, but then they asked for blueprints within 45 days, which is impossible. So I requested an extension in January, and I never heard back, and I’ve since asked repeatedly.”

Craft growers also report difficulties in obtaining investment capital, as investors are waiting for a canopy size increase, as well as issuance of new dispensary licenses, which could be co-located with a craft grow, allowing a grower to skip middleman costs, selling their product directly from the grow room to consumers, an option even big multi-state operator cultivators aren’t allowed to do.

But Illinois has 185 dispensary licenses also stuck in legal limbo, as a consolidated case for those licenses grinds through court, some legal observers suggesting it won’t be resolved until 2023.

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