Considerations for Existing Dispensaries in Preparation for Recreational Cannabis in Illinois

Considerations for Existing Dispensaries in Preparation for Recreational Cannabis in Illinois

As a result of recent legislation in Illinois, beginning January 1, 2020, recreational cannabis will be legal for those 21 years or older. An existing Illinois cannabis dispensary may apply for a Primary License to sell cannabis at their current medical cannabis location or a Secondary License to sell cannabis at a new location, or both.

License Overview

  • Licenses Issued By: The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation.
  • Deadlines: Application may be submitted beginning on or around November 1, 2019.
  • Approximate Costs:
    • Application: $30,000
    • If Approved: Completion of a Social Equity Inclusion Plan. This requirement is an effort to reduce barriers for those impacted by the enforcement of Cannabis-related laws and an investment by a cannabis business of at least $100,000.
    • Renewal: $30,000 (annually after March 31, 2021).
  • Licenses Valid Until: March 31, 2021
  • In Addition, for Primary License Only:
    • Cannabis Business Development Fee equal to 3% of the organization’s sales between June 1, 2018—June 1, 2019 or $100,000, whichever is less.
    • License issued within 14 days of receipt of application.
  • In Addition, for Secondary License Only:
    • Cannabis Business Development Fee of $200,000.
    • Contingent on a successful inspection of site.      

Application Requirements

  • Proof of good standing.
  • Identification of all officers and board members, who must be 21 years or older.
  • Name and current primary site address or proposed address of secondary site.  
    • The secondary site must be in the same BLS Region as the primary site, but not within 1,500 feet of the primary site or of another dispensary.
      • BLS Regions: Bloomington; Cape Girardeau; Carbondale-Marion; Champaign-Urbana; Chicago Naperville-Elgin; Danville; Davenport-Moline-Rock Island; Decatur; Kankakee; Peoria; Rockford; St. Louis; Springfield; Northwest Illinois nonmetropolitan; West Central Illinois nonmetropolitan; East Central Illinois nonmetropolitan; South Illinois nonmetropolitan.
  • Copy of the current local zoning and ordinances for the designated real estate.
  • Commitment to completing a Social Equity Inclusion Plan.  

If you have additional questions regarding recent cannabis legislation and its impact on dispensaries, contact Adam Fayne ( or Robin Dusek ( at Saul Ewing Arnstein & Lehr LLP.

*The authors of this article would like to thank Diana Arroyo for her contributions.


DISCLAIMER: Per federal law, marijuana is a Schedule I controlled substance. This means that it is a federal crime to sell, distribute, possess, and/or use marijuana or marijuana-derived products, regardless of any state law that may authorize certain marijuana activity. Although federal policy may, at times, recommend enforcement discretion when a business or individual is in compliance with state marijuana law that is deemed to comply with federal enforcement priorities, it is important to understand that compliance with state law does not equal compliance with federal law, and that federal marijuana policy may change at any time. No legal advice we give regarding marijuana law or policy is ever intended to guide or assist clients in violating federal law.

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