Illinois Issues First Recreational Cannabis Retail Licenses

Illinois issued its first recreational cannabis retail licenses this week and sales are set to begin next year.

Five shops across Illinois in Naperville, Mundelein, Joliet, Effingham, and Canton are the first to be granted the right to sell recreational cannabis in the state. Sales can begin on January 1, 2020.


Unfortunately, for several of the recipients, the licenses could be null and void. While Canton and Joliet have approved recreational cannabis sales, Naperville, Effington, and Mundelein have not made a decision on whether or not they will allow dispensaries to expand beyond medicinal cannabis. Under the law signed by Governor J.B. Pritzker, local municipalities can block recreational cannabis sales. A rally in Naperville is planned for Saturday with opponents hoping to convince local officials to ban recreational sales.

Green Thumb Industries (GTI), based in Chicago, owns four of the five shops receiving the initial licenses, The Clinic Mundelein, Salveo Health and Wellness in Canton, and the 3C Compassionate Care Center locations in Naperville and Joliet. It also controls 50 percent of the fifth shop, The Clinic Effingham.

It may seem that GTI is receiving preferential treatment, Chris Slaby, spokesman for the state’s Department of Financial and Professional Regulation, says license applications are reviewed in the order they are received, though that does not fully address which applications are approved.

GTI, on the other hand, is obviously pleased with how the application process has played out.

“GTI is thrilled that our five stores received the state of Illinois’ first approvals,” GTI spokeswoman Linda Marsicano said in a statement. “GTI has had a great relationship with the city of Naperville since 2015 … We continue to talk and work with the city on this important issue.”

The licenses do not interfere with local government’s ability to ban recreational cannabis sales. However, if local governments fail to make a decision, either way, retailers with a license can sell recreational cannabis. Effington officials plan on discussing their plan to either allow or disallow recreational sales next month. 

“We anticipated Effingham might be granted a license, so with that we’ll have to get public input and then the (city) council can make an informed decision,” Effington city administrator Steve Miller said according to Chicago Tribune.

The state’s fifty-five medicinal cannabis dispensaries all had the opportunity to apply for recreational sales. Dozens of additional licenses are expected to be awarded by state officials, though there are concerns the process will not be inclusive and could see very few non-whites operating cannabis businesses. 

The new law allows for adults to legally possess up to 30 grams of cannabis flower and up to 5 grams of concentrate.