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Coronavirus

State delays awarding licenses for marijuana dispensaries from May 1

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More than 700 applicants looking to land one of 75 licenses for new recreational marijuana dispensaries – including a group who wants to open in Dixon – will have to wait a bit longer as the state has delayed awards because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The 75 licenses were slated to be awarded May 1, but they're being postponed until the governor's coronavirus disaster declarations end or until a new date is set by the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation, which issues the licenses.

"We recognize that countless entrepreneurs were looking forward to May 1 and the next step it represented for Illinois’ adult-use cannabis industry,” said Toi Hutchinson, Gov. JB Pritzker's senior adviser for cannabis control.

“However, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has caused delays in the application review process. This executive order will help ensure that we continue to build out this industry in a deliberate and equity-centric manner.”

The bulk of licenses, 47, will be awarded in the Chicago area and collar counties.

The northwest Illinois region – Bureau, Carroll, Jo Daviess, La Salle, Lee, Ogle, Putnam, DeKalb, Stephenson and Whiteside counties – will receive three licenses.

A group of developers are applying for a license with the goal of bringing a dispensary to Dixon, with a potential downtown location at 98 S. Galena Ave., the former U.S. Bank building. The dispensary would be called Freya, and the developers are April Glosser, Eli and Payton McVey, and Nathan Odell.

The City Council approved zoning regulations and other rules for marijuana business establishments late last year.

The state also is offering incentives for eligible social equity applicants, such as those who live in an area disproportionately hit by the war on drugs. Parts of Dixon, Sterling and Rochelle were designated Disproportionately Impacted Areas.

Those areas have the opportunity to apply for marijuana tax revenue funds to go toward community organizations that support economic development, provide violence prevention and re-entry services, and offer youth development and civil legal aid to individuals.

The Illinois Department of Agriculture is scheduled to issue 40 craft grower and 40 infuser licenses July 1 unless there's a delay.

Five area business people – Ed Messenger, David Murray, Cole Johnson, Justine Messenger and Tyler Hagemann – are hoping to develop a craft grower operation in Oregon called The Tree Pharm.

The Oregon City Council approved a special-use permit last week for 807 Pines Road, where The Tree Pharm would locate. Craft growers cultivate, dry, cure and package marijuana to make it available to sell at a dispensary or use at a processing organization.

Recreational marijuana, which became legal for those 21 and older on Jan. 1, generated more than $100 million in sales in the first 3 months.

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