Many budding marijuana entrepreneurs in Illinois may be disappointed to learn that they may have to wait until at least August to see if they won a license from the state.

The licenses were supposed to be awarded May 1, but Gov. JB Pritzker signed an executive order at the end of April indefinitely suspending the decision. He had cited difficulties related to the coronavirus pandemic and glitches in processing the applications.

Originally, all 75 licenses were to be awarded at the same time, but now some applicants could be awarded a license next month while others will have to wait until at least early August.

Former state Sen. Toi Hutchinson, who oversees the state cannabis program, told the Cook County Cannabis Commission the delay is necessary to make sure licenses are issued correctly and to avoid lawsuits.

“My biggest worry is that any delay … makes it very hard for the people, who are the entire intent of this, to weather,” Hutchinson said.

The licenses are prioritized towards so-called Social Equity applicants. To qualify for social equity status, at least 51 percent of an ownership group applying for a state license has to live in an area most impacted by the war on drugs, been arrested or had a family member arrested for a cannabis-related offense; or have more than 10 full-time employees, at least 51 percent of whom would otherwise qualify for social equity status.

Each applicant was permitted to apply for up to 10 licenses, and 50 points out of a possible 250 were awarded to those who qualified for social equity status.

Hutchinson said the company in charge of the grading system banned its employees from traveling, “… which really slowed down everything on the dispensary side,” she said.

“All 75 licenses will not necessarily all be awarded at the same time. Some licenses could be awarded to applications that didn’t tie with any other application,” said Charity Greene, a spokeswoman for Pritzker.

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