After over a year of delays, Illinois finally issued conditional adult-use dispensary licenses to 185 social equity applicants. However, the conditional license does not allow you to begin cannabis retail sales yet. In the 180 days of this conditional phase, you must follow a step-by-step procedure for receiving final approval from the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) to operate a fully licensed adult-use cannabis dispensary. This blog post will guide you through the procedure to transition from a conditional license to a permanent adult-use cannabis retail dispensary license in Illinois.
1. Identify a Physical Address and Location for your Dispensary
To transition to and obtain the permanent dispensary license, you have to first identify the physical address where your cannabis dispensary will be located in Illinois. Ensure that the physical space conforms to the requirements laid down by Illinois authorities and any other local laws. Additionally, your dispensary location must be at least 1500 feet away from any existing dispensaries.
2. Confirm your Dispensary is Located within your BLS Region
Your dispensary license is tied to your BLS Region in Illinois, and you must find a physical location within that particular region only. The Department is preparing tools to help licensees check whether their dispensary’s address is within their BLS Region and will reject any proposed location that is not within the designated BLS Region.
3. All Principal Officers Must Get Licensed by IDFPR
All principal officers listed on your cannabis adult-use dispensary conditional license must apply to get certified by the department, along with fingerprints. You provide your fingerprints via a licensed vendor within 30 days before submitting your principal officer application. Failure to do so will require re-fingerprinting.
4. Obtain Zoning Approval from Local Jurisdiction
After obtaining proper zoning approval for your dispensary, you must complete and submit the following zoning and location documents to the IDFPR.
- Notice of proper zoning form & Proof of Zoning Approval
- Copy of local government’s laws allowing adult-use dispensaries
- Proof of land ownership/sales contract/landlord’s consent
5. Submit your Dispensary Operations and Floor Plan
You may begin building out your dispensary at any time, but the department will review floor plans on a preliminary basis to provide feedback on changes that may be necessary. The IDFPR will require a detailed operation and security plan- here’s a free template for the same that you can use as part of your final application process.
6. Open a Surety Bond or Escrow Account
All applicants must establish and maintain an escrow account or surety bond unless they are exempt under the CRTA. You will need to show evidence of either your escrow account or surety bond in the amount of $50,000 or evidence that you qualify for a waiver and submit a form to verify the same. You may be exempt from this requirement if your entity has less than a total collective income of $750k in the previous calendar year and has no more than two other licenses for cannabis business establishments in Illinois.
7. Review Your Original Application and Update Documents
If anything has changed for your organization since originally applying for a conditional license, you must submit the updated documents. You will have to review your original application and submit written explanations for any documents that may have changed since your original application as you are legally bound by all the information in your final application.
8. Complete your Final Adult-Use Dispensary License Application
The submission of the final application for your dispensary license will require you to acknowledge and abide by all of the original commitments you submitted, including business plan, operational plan, security plan, environmental plan, labor practices, and others, and any recent changes made to these plans. A thorough review of your original application is highly recommended to ensure everything is consistent in your final license application.
9. Complete and Submit Self-Inspection Form
Once you have completed your dispensary build-out and believe you are ready to operate and start selling cannabis at your dispensary location, you may request a self-inspection form from the IDFPR. This will guide you through the same things their inspectors will look for to ensure you are fully prepared for the final inspection. Once you have submitted the form, you will be able to schedule the final inspection of your dispensary.
10. Schedule Final Inspection and Submit Payment
Illinois’ cannabis authorities must inspect and approve your dispensary in person before you can open your dispensary for business. This will include a complete inspection of your facilities to make sure the dispensary is compliant with all laws. Once you have passed the final inspection, you must submit payment for the final approval of your Illinois dispensary license. The cannabis license application and renewal fee for an adult-use dispensary are $60,000.
As mentioned earlier, you cannot operate your dispensary on a conditional license, and you must transition to a permanent adult-use dispensary license in Illinois to start selling cannabis. Ensure that your dispensary license application is fortified with a complete business plan, operations, security plan, etc., to get that coveted license.
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