The state of Illinois today announced the first round of winners to receive licenses to open new marijuana dispensaries, 19 months after the process began.
Companies were chosen by lottery for 55 dispensary licenses awarded in 17 districts across the state, including 36 in the Chicago area. Among the five winners in the Bloomington region was Americanna Dream, one of the original teams to receive perfect scores. Its owners include Bridget Degnen, a Cook County commissioner who was former state regulator for the medical marijuana program.
The state said yesterday that 662 applicants qualified for the lottery. It’s the first of three being held to distribute 185 new licenses to sell recreational marijuana. Currently there are 110 dispensaries in the state, which are operated by companies that received licenses granted under the medical marijuana program launched in 2015.
The licenses awarded today represent the first new entrants, other than those who bought existing dispensaries, since Illinois allowed recreational marijuana.
The lottery, which was done electronically, is sure to produce joy and disappointment among groups who began efforts to get into the marijuana business after Illinois passed a law allowing recreational cannabis use two years ago.