Judge orders mock lotteries for weed licenses

The so-called super deal involves 70 applicants who challenged the licensing process. Some of them have participated in previous lotteries and will not be allowed to participate in the simulated lotteries. It is not known how many contestants will participate in the simulated lotteries.

The judge and the state are trying to thread a tricky legal needle: resolve administrative issues with the original lotteries to award 185 marijuana retail licenses without throwing out all the results and starting over. Any applicants deemed to have been unjustly excluded from the original lotteries would be awarded licenses from a pool of 205 remaining dispensary licenses that were not distributed.

Rather than hearing 70 cases and allowing the winners to enter a lottery that they may or may not win, Gamrath is trying to move the process along. The original lotteries were conducted with a computer, rather than physically drawing numbers. The state proposed to hold a simulated lottery that would produce the same odds as the original electronic draw.

“This tribunal believes that ordering remedial lotteries at this stage will indeed expedite the resolution of issues and avoid unnecessary delays and costs, while doing justice to the parties and preserving the rights of all,” Gamrath said in the ruling. of yesterday.

The judge previously said that due to the number of plaintiffs, it could take 18 months to resolve all cases.

“It lets litigants know if there is something worth fighting for before spending additional resources, and it provides some light at the end of the tunnel for the previous 185 winners who have waited patiently,” said Ryan Holz, partner at Greenspoon Marder, which represents several plaintiffs.

Gamrath also offered plaintiffs in the super case the option to opt out of mock lotteries to pursue their administrative challenges first.

“Overall, we believe this is a positive and significant step towards the resolution of an otherwise very protracted litigation and, in turn, a step towards the resolution of an issuance process. very long dispensary license,” said Irina Dashevsky, another Greenspoon Marder partner. “We believe this decision presents reasonable common ground for parties and a way forward for litigants.”

The process has already stalled. None of the 185 licenses decided by lotteries last year have yet been awarded due to another case in Cook County, which disputed whether extra points for veterans conflicted with the law of the state passed in 2019 that legalized recreational marijuana in an effort to address the racial and social inequalities created by the war on drugs. Another case challenging the constitutionality of bonus points awarded to Illinois residents is pending in federal court.

Nearly 1,000 individuals or groups submitted applications for the new retail licenses at the end of 2019. The first 75 were expected to be issued in May 2020. COVID-related delays and initial application scoring issues led to a new rating process. Another 110 licenses were made available to applicants and three lotteries were held in the summer of 2021.

Administrative challenges to the process have been making their way through the courts since last fall. Illinois’ application process, once seen as a potential roadmap for other states, is now seen as flawed. The state has proposed revising the complicated application process for a simpler pass-fail approach to qualifying for a lottery.

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