Illinois became the 11th state to legalize adult-use of marijuana when it opened its market on January 1, 2020. It was the first state to legalize adult-use via legislation rather than a ballot initiative and has quickly generated substantial revenue from both in-state and out-of-state customers. Despite announcing a highly-praised social equity program, Illinois has ended up with a less equitable and more consolidated market than most due to to ongoing legal challenges and COVID delays.
Legalization Dates:Medical – August 2013
Adult-Use – January 1, 2020
Relevant Legislation:Cannabis Control Act (1978)
Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act (MCPP) (2013), revised to Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Program Act (MCP, Full-Text)
Illinois Industrial Hemp Act of 2018
Illinois Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act (Approved May 31, 2019) – (Summary, Full-Text)
Summary of Illinois Marijuana Laws (COVA)
Regulatory Bodies:Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) – Adult-Use Cannabis Program
Illinois Department of Human Services
Department of Public Health
Licensing Model:Limited licensing – The State of Illinois sets a quota in each license category – cultivator, craft grower, transporter, infuser, and retail.

Cultivation – Prior to adult-use there were 21 approved medical grow facilities and those facilities had first opportunity to obtain adult-use licenses. No new cultivators will be permitted until 2021 at the earliest.
Dispensaries – In Illinois, medical dispensaries are known as “Medical Marijuana Treatment Centers”. As of early 2020 there were 55 medical and 37 adult-use dispensaries in the state (Chicago Sun-Times, Chicago Tribune). The city of Chicago has 11 medical dispensaries or and 9 adult-use dispensaries. The awarding of 75 new dispensaries under a social equity plan was delayed due to coronavirus disruptions and is now being challenged in court after only 21 of 700 applicants were deemed qualified for the 75 licenses.
Example Firms: Sunnyside (Cresco Labs), Dispensary 33 (first in Chicago), Columbia Care, Green Thumb Industries, Verano Holdings, PharmaCann
Industry Associations:Illinois Cannabis Industry Association (ILCIA, affiliate of the NCIA)
Notable EventsAugust 2018 – Expansion of medical marijuana program to include opioid replacement
August 2019 – Medical program made permanent and 11 new conditions added
September 2020 – Monthly adult-use sales reached $68M
2022 – The Gies College of Business at the University of Illinois launches a data management project with the state cannabis industry.
ArticlesNew Court Order Puts Illinois Craft Grow Cannabis Licenses On Hold Again (Cannabis Business Times, June 22, 2022)
Following months of delays, state again moves forward with new cannabis licensing (Chicago Sun-Times, January 26, 2021)
‘Epic failure’ of Illinois’ legal weed backers in Springfield to keep promises on diversity (Chicago Sun-Times, December 11, 2020)
As of June 15, 2022
%d bloggers like this: