ILLINOIS Marijuna Dispensary Laws

Illinois Cannabis Dispensary Laws and Licensing Procedures

Updated on November 2, 2020.

On June 25, 2019, Illinois made history by becoming the 11th state to legalize recreational cannabis — and the first to do so through legislation rather than a ballot initiative. Under the state’s Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act, recreational cannabis sales to adults aged 21 and older officially began on January 1, 2020.

The new law initially allowed 55 medical marijuana dispensaries, legal in the state since 2014, to apply for adult-use retail licenses, which would permit them to sell recreational cannabis from their medical dispensary locations. Additionally, these dispensaries may apply to open a second retail location..

Illinois committed to issuing up to 75 new adult-use cannabis retail licenses to applicants by May 1, 2020. However, as of September 2020, only 21 applicants scored perfectly and qualified as finalists, and there have been countless delays and controversy in their lottery process. Regulators are currently allowing some applicants to make corrections to their application and refile. There is no indication when new licenses will become available, and new applications are not currently being accepted.

Below, we’ve answered as many questions as possible regarding cannabis retail and dispensary laws in Illinois, and we will update this page regularly as new information becomes available. 

Related resources:

 Oklahoma Dispensary Laws / Washington Dispensary LawsColorado Dispensary Laws / California Dispensary Laws / Missouri Dispensary Laws / Michigan Dispensary Laws / Nevada Dispensary Laws / Montana Dispensary Laws / Alaska Dispensary Laws

Illinois Cannabis Laws

An overview of the medical and recreational marijuana laws in Illinois.

Who is able to purchase cannabis in Illinois?

Qualifying patients holding a valid Medical Cannabis Patient ID card and their registered caregivers may purchase medical marijuana in Illinois.

As of January 1, 2020, adults aged 21 and older may purchase recreational cannabis from licensed retailers in Illinois.

Are there qualifying conditions for medical marijuana patients?

Yes. The list of debilitating conditions that qualify for medical marijuana in Illinois can be found here on the Illinois Department of Public Health website.

Retail Cannabis Licensing in Illinois

Everything you need to know about opening a retail cannabis location in Illinois.

What state agency is in charge of cannabis licensing in Illinois?

The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR).

What is the process for obtaining an adult-use dispensary license in Illinois?

Currently, the IDFPR is not accepting new applications for adult-use dispensing organization licenses. The first-round application window has closed, and the first 75 licenses are to be issued in the fall of 2020.


What are the application fees and licence costs for an adult-use cannabis retail license in Illinois?

For a regular (non-Social Equity) applicant, there is a non-refundable application fee of $5000. If approved, the cost for an Adult Use Dispensing Organization License is $60,000 for 2 years.

For applicants who meet the Social Equity criteria, the application fee is $2,500, and the cost of an approved 2-year license is $30,0000.

Illinois Dispensary Laws

Learn how to remain compliant with Illinois cannabis retail laws.

Where can a cannabis dispensary be located?

In order to ensure geographical dispersion of adult-use cannabis dispensaries, Illinois has divided the available 75 adult-use retail licenses among the 17 Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Regions within the state. This means that, if approved for an adult-use dispensary license, you must locate your dispensary within the BLS Region identified on your application. 

Once approved for a license, you will have 180 days to identify a physical location for your retail storefront. The location must be suitable for public access; have a layout that promotes the safe dispensing of cannabis; and be sufficient in size, power allocation, lighting, parking, accessible parking spaces, accessible entry and exits as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act, product handling, and storage. Additionally, the location must not be within 1,500 feet of an existing dispensing location. 

Early Approval Adult Use Dispensing Organization License holders opening their second site may locate it within any BLS Region that intersects with their medical cannabis dispensary’s Dispensing Organization District. The site may not be located within 1,500 feet of another adult-use dispensary.

What is required of a dispensing organization before selling cannabis?

Before selling any cannabis or cannabis products, dispensary staff must:

  • Verify the age of the purchaser by checking a valid government-issued ID card by use of an electronic scanner

  • Offer any appropriate purchaser education or support materials

  • Enter the required information into the state’s electronic verification system, including dispensary’s ID number, the dispensing agent’s ID number, the amount and type of cannabis or cannabis-infused product being sold, and the date and time of the sale

What are the purchase limits for recreational cannabis in Illinois?

Purchase and possession limits for recreational cannabis is slightly different for Illinois residents and non-residents.

For Illinois residents, it's 30 grams of cannabis flower, 5 grams of concentrate, or 500mg of THC for for infused products.

Non-residents can still purchase 15 grams of cannabis flower, 5 grams of concentrate, or 250mg of infused THC.

What are the purchase limits for medical marijuana patients?

Qualifying registered medical marijuana patients in Illinois may purchase up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis flower every 14 days. For concentrates, edibles, or other non-flower cannabis products, the pre-weight of the cannabis flower used to make the product counts toward the purchase limit.

What are dispensaries prohibited from selling?

Dispensaries cannot sell:

  • Any product containing alcohol except tinctures, which are limited to containers no larger than 100 milliliters

  • Clones or other live plant material

  • Cannabis, cannabis concentrate, or cannabis-infused products in combination or bundled with each other for one price

What taxes are collected on retail cannabis in Illinois?

Illinois is imposing a tiered tax rate on cannabis products, based on the THC content of the product. The tax rate for cannabis products is as follows:

  • 10 percent tax on cannabis flower or product containing less than 35 percent THC
  • 20 percent tax on all infused cannabis products, including edibles
  • 25 percent tax on any product with a THC concentration higher than 35 percent

Additionally, the regular state sales tax of 6.25 percent will apply, along with local taxes of up to 3.5 percent.

What are the laws regarding cannabis advertising and promotion in Illinois?

Cannabis businesses in Illinois may not engage in advertising that:

  • Is false or misleading
  • Promotes overconsumption of cannabis
  • Depicts the actual consumption of cannabis
  • Makes any health, medicinal, or therapeutic claims about cannabis
  • Includes the image of a cannabis leaf or bud
  • Includes any image designed or likely to appeal to minors, including cartoons, toys, animals, or children

Additionally, no cannabis business may advertise cannabis or cannabis products in any form:

  • Within 1,000 feet of a school, playground, recreation center, child care center, public park or library, or game arcade which allows persons under the age of 21
  • On or in a public transit vehicle or public transit shelter
  • On or in publicly owned or publicly operated property

Cannabis businesses, including retailers, are also prohibited from promoting the sale of cannabis products by giving away cannabis or cannabis products, conducting games or competitions related to consumption, or by providing promotional materials or activities that would be appealing to children.

When are dispensaries allowed to operate?

Dispensaries may operate between the hours of 6:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m. Additionally, operation is prohibited under the following circumstances:

  • When video surveillance equipment is inoperative

  • When point-of-sale equipment is inoperative

  • When the state’s electronic verification system is inoperative

  • When there are fewer than two people working in the dispensary

Cannabis Tracking, Reporting, and Inventory Control in Illinois

Every regulated cannabis market has its own tracking and reporting requirements. Find out how Illinois will monitor commercial cannabis activity here.

What are the tracking and reporting requirements for Illinois cannabis retailers?

Illinois cannabis retailers must establish an account with the state’s verification system that documents:

  • Each sales transaction at the time of sale 
  • Each day’s beginning and ending inventory 
  • Acquisitions of cannabis and cannabis-infused products 
  • Disposal of cannabis

What are the inventory control system requirements for cannabis retailers in Illinois?

Cannabis retailers in Illinois must have an inventory control and point of sale system that is real-time, web-based, and accessible by the state at any time. Additionally, retailers must conduct a daily inventory reconciliation, documenting and balancing cannabis inventory by confirming that the state’s verification system matches the dispensary’s point of sale system and the amount of physical product at the dispensary.

What is the official state cannabis verification system in Illinois?

BioTrackTHC provides statewide cannabis verification and monitoring in Illinois.

Is Cova compliant with Illinois' cannabis tracking, reporting, and inventory control requirements?

Yes. Cova’s dispensary point of sale and inventory management system includes all the features needed to keep Illinois dispensaries compliant, including:

  • Fully integrated inventory and sales tracking and reporting
  • Built-in product equivalency conversions and purchase limit enforcement
  • ID scanner for government-issued and patient ID card verification

Cannabis Advertising & Marketing Laws

What restrictions are there regarding cannabis advertising?

There are specific restrictions depending on the advertising medium that we will address below, but overall there are some common restrictions across the board.

First, no advertisements for anything cannabis-related can be attractive to minors (no cartoon characters or public figures appealing to a younger age group) or promote underage or out-of-state consumption. Second, no product can claim any therapeutic or curative effects. Lastly, any cannabis advertisement must include the following government warnings:

  • "This product has intoxicating effects and may be habit forming.";

  • "Marijuana can impair concentration, coordination, and judgment. Do not operate a vehicle or machinery under the influence of this drug.";

  • "There may be health risks associated with consumption of this product."; and

  • "For use only by adults twenty-one and older. Keep out of the reach of children.”

What kind of signage are dispensaries allowed to have?

Each licensed retail location can have two signs at their location with their business name or trade name. These signs cannot be larger than 1,600 square feet (measured from the outer frame). No signs can be on the road pointing in the direction of the dispensary, they can only be affixed or hanging from the building or windows of the actual storefront.

What can the signs include on them?

The signs can include the business name, location and identify the nature of the business. It cannot have any photos or depictions of cannabis and it cannot be appealing to minors.

Are cannabis advertisements on billboards allowed?

A cannabis dispensary can advertise on billboards with some restrictions. First, the billboard can only contain the same information as signage on the storefront (i.e., name of business, address and nature of business). It cannot contain any photos or depictions of the cannabis plant (this includes any logo with a cannabis leaf) or appeal to minors. No matter the design, the billboard must say that cannabis can only be purchased and possessed by adults over 21 years old.

Are dispensaries allowed to host giveaways or coupons?

No, dispensaries cannot give away any product or coupons. They can, however, encourage customers to sign up for an email or text list and offer specials that way.

Can a dispensary sell branded merchandise?

No, a dispensary is only allowed to sell legal cannabis products and paraphernalia. But branded merchandise for a dispensary can be sold on their website or through a separate entity.


Can a dispensary advertise in print media?

Yes, a dispensary is allowed to advertise in print publications, but with a few restrictions. The publication cannot target or distribute to an audience out of state or underage. And the content of the advertisement must follow the same rules as billboards and signage (no cannabis depictions or photos, cartoon characters or anything appealing to minors and must include government warnings). Local jurisdictions are able to establish additional advertising rules, so always check for relevant local laws.

What is allowed in terms of online advertising?

A retail cannabis business can have a website, but it cannot appeal to or solicit anyone under the age of 21. You can sell branded non-cannabis merchandise on your website, but all cannabis products must be purchased in store.

Can a dispensary host, attend or sponsor events?

Yes, a dispensary can host or sponsor an event, but only if attendees are over 21 years old. They cannot have product on hand, neither as a free gift or sold.

Where can I find more information about cannabis advertising laws in Washington?

Rules and regulations regarding advertising for Washington cannabis companies are constantly changing. You can view the WSLCB’s Q&A on advertising here.


You definitely need a cannabis-specific POS at your dispensary. Find the most frequently asked tech questions here.

How do I manage state compliance using my point-of-sale?

Cova POS software provides complete seed-to-sale tracking functionality and has a number of built-in features designed to help you automatically comply with the legal regulations in your state/province. For example, the Cova POS system automatically monitors:

  • Purchase Limits – The POS system automatically calculates the correct THC amounts for all products, including concentrates and edibles. By relieving your staff of this complex task, the POS prevents mistakes in calculation and allows your budtenders to focus on customer service—and not on mathematical conversions. The system also enforces purchase limits by alerting staff when a limit has been reached and preventing budtenders from executing a sale that would place you over the legal limit.
  • Hours of Operation – The system can be easily configured to comply with local laws. Once the operational hours are set up, the POS will not allow sales to be executed outside the legal hours of operation, preventing potential violations before they occur.
  • Customer Identification Requirements – Customer IDs are easily scanned and recorded, ensuring your staff double checks IDs and virtually eliminating potential sales to minors or other individuals lacking the requisite documentation.
  • Accurate Real-Time Reporting – Operational visibility is also very important for your team. Cova POS software generates management reports in real time. These reports can be easily distributed across the organization to ensure the correct data is in the hands of the correct personnel.
  • Fully Compliant Product Labelling & Receipts Cova Software enables the complete customization of all printed materials, product labels, and receipts, enabling you to comply with all local regulations related to labeling and packaging quickly and easily.

What happens if my internet connection goes down and my dispensary is slammed with customers?

To ensure that you always maintain an expedient transaction pace and keep lines moving, Cova comes with a built-in offline sales processing mode that enables continuous access to critical functions even when your Wi-Fi or internet connection is unavailable. Once connectivity is restored, all transactions performed in offline mode are synchronized with the state’s reporting system, data is backed up, and reports and inventory records are adjusted accordingly.

How do I make sure I submit timely and accurate taxes each month to the government?

By choosing a POS system with built-in tax reporting functionality, you’ll always know exactly how much tax you need to pay.

Why is it important to have a marijuana-specific POS vs. a retail or pharmacy POS?

There are several reasons why a cannabis-specific POS is ideal for your operation—but the most important one is compliance management. Because traditional retail operations and pharmacies don’t have the same government-mandated compliance requirements, their POS systems aren’t built to manage the complexities involved with track and trace reporting and the other aspects of state compliance.

What happens if the state regulations change? How does Cova stay on top of this?

With the industry still in its infancy, regulations are bound to change. At Cova, our team keeps up with industry-wide and state-specific changes so that our developers can quickly made necessary software updates—and so you never have to worry about remaining compliant with the latest regulations.

Is Cova integrated with Metrc?

Currently, Metrc is not yet live in California since the state's regulations have not yet been officially adopted. However, Cova is working closely with Metrc and has already begun the process of integration, and we plan to be ready when the system goes live.

I have a high-traffic store. Can Cova support me and handle my volume?

Absolutely! Cova software is built on technology that has the ability to dynamically scale with your needs. Microsoft’s Cloud Computing Platform, Azure, automatically detects instances of heavy traffic (such as sales on 4/20) and assigns further servers and computing power as necessary to compensate—allowing you to process sales without interruption, even during the busiest retail periods.

Do I have to follow CA compliance even if it is not in effect? Will the POS still process sales?

Although technically you are not mandated to comply with the new law and regulations until July, it’s a good idea to implement a compliant POS now so you don’t have to switch later.

How do I do the 14-day inventory reconciliation?

With Cova, you can easily stay compliant with California’s inventory reconciliation requirement by printing the Inventory-on-hand report and checking it against your physical inventory. You can make any necessary adjustments directly into the POS, which will then sync the data across your network.

Ron Segev

Cannabis Business Lawyer & Founding Partner, Segev LLP

Legally reviewed by

Ron Segev

Ron Segev is the founding partner of Segev LLP. A practical-minded business lawyer with expertise in the cannabis industry, he represents cultivators, dispensaries, CBD extractors, oil extractors, food processors, media and marketing companies, consultancies, and other businesses in the legal cannabis market. 

View Ron's full bio


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