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Illinois

Dispensary POS Software

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Illinois signed the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act in 2013. The state’s first dispensaries began selling medical cannabis products to patients by the end of 2014, and the state extended its pilot program for another four years in 2016.

This shows why Illinois has such a restrictive, almost ad-hoc system in place. The program currently in effect is still a pilot program, subject to radical change whenever lawmakers deem necessary. However, the program has stabilized somewhat since its 2016 extension, and as national attitudes towards cannabis change, so too will lawmakers’ reservations.

Illinois Regulations

Do I need a dispensary license to operate in Illlinois?

Yes. Illinois requires dispensaries to successfully apply for a medical retailer license. This license allows organizations to sell cannabis products to registered patients who suffer from a variety of qualifying conditions.

Who manages cannabis licenses in Illlinois?

The Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act puts four separate departments in charge of different aspects of cannabis license management:

  • The Department of Public Health. This organization manages patient licenses.
  • The Department of Revenue. This organization collects cannabis cultivation, sale, and income taxes.
  • The Department of Financial and Professional Regulation. This organization administers cannabis licensing for dispensaries.
  • The Department of Agriculture. This organization administers cannabis licensing for cultivators.

How do I obtain a cannabis dispensary license in Illlinois?

Illinois has not accepted applications since 2014, when it required applicants to hand-deliver applications to the Department of Financial and Professional Regulation within a two-week time period. The best way for a newcomer to open a dispensary in Illinois is to acquire (subject to state regulation) an existing cannabis dispensary license holder.

What are the requirements for a cannabis retail license?

Illinois has some of the most restrictive regulatory environments for new cannabis dispensaries in the country. The state requires applicants to submit to a fingerprint background check and offer full disclosures for past bankruptcies, student loan defaults, and tax returns.

Applicants must submit a full business plan that includes feasibility, operations experience, management, facility security, recordkeeping, financial disclosures, and more. The state restricts dispensaries to certain geographical districts as well.

How much does a cannabis retail license cost?

Illinois cannabis dispensary application fees are non-refundable. Every applicant must enclose a check for $5,000 with their application, and be prepared to pay an additional $30,000 upon being approved. Additionally, applicants must demonstrate $400,000 in liquid assets and an additional $50,000 in escrow.

Are there annual licensing fees?

Yes. Illinois charges a $100,000 per year annual permit renewal fee. This applies both to dispensaries and to cultivators.

What license type do I need to service recreational and medical patients?

Illinois distinguishes between dispensaries and cultivators. Only dispensaries may sell cannabis products to qualifying patients. The state is not accepting applications for new dispensaries or cultivators as of 2019.

When will cannabis retail licenses be issued?

Illinois approved its medical marijuana pilot program in 2013 and created a regulatory environment by 2014. However, the state did not finish providing licenses to its approved applicants until 2016.

Will I be able to obtain a retail license if I already have a dispensary?

Probably. State lawmakers have reviewed the state’s cannabis laws almost every year, and voter pressure continues to build for a recreational, adult-use regulatory framework. Under these conditions, the state’s existing dispensaries (and out-of-state dispensaries) would likely have an advantage when new legislation passes.

What local (county-level) permissions will I need to operate?

Medical marijuana dispensaries in Illinois must be located more than 1,000 feet away from schools, day care centers, and areas zoned for residential use. Cultivation centers must be 2,500 feet away from schools, day care centers, and residential areas.

Cannabis Event Licensing

Do I need a license to host a cannabis event in Illlinois?

No. There is no state statute preventing or regulating the organization of cannabis-related events in Illinois.

Do I need a separate premises license for cannabis events?

No. Cannabis industry event organizers are not obliged to apply for any special permits. Venues and conference centers may refuse cannabis organizers for their own reasons, however.

Can I obtain a cannabis event license if I hold a retailer license?

Dispensaries may host or organize cannabis-related events in Illlinois without applying for special licensing.

Managing Your Business in Illlinois

How can I ensure that I remain compliant?

Illlinois makes strict reporting and security requirements of its dispensaries. Additionally, dispensary employees must be certified by the state. Dispensaries should appoint an experienced compliance officer to help navigate the state’s regulatory system.

What security measures am I required to take?

Illinois requires dispensaries to implement fully functional security alarm systems and to keep cannabis products stored in a secure, enclosed space with suitable access control solutions. Dispensaries must also implement a surveillance system and a solution for transportation security. Dispensary license applicants’ security plans account for 20% of their application’s total score.

Can I package and label cannabis in my retail store?

Only under certain circumstances. Illinois state law forbids dispensary employees from packaging and labeling medical cannabis products, but it does allow cultivation center employees to perform these tasks inside dispensaries. In general, cultivation centers must package or label cannabis products – not dispensaries.

Can I sell alcohol or tobacco at my cannabis retail store?

No. Illinois dispensaries are prohibited from selling food and beverages, and may not sell tobacco products either.

Can I vertically integrate my cannabis businesses?

Yes. Illlinois does not prohibit dispensing organizations from applying as cultivation centers, or vice versa. This requires submitting two separate applications and paying the appropriate fines, but several high-profile Illinoise companies have taken this route.

Can I sample or give products away in-store?

Don’t risk it. llinois does not specifically prohibit dispensaries from giving away product samples, but it does require dispensaries to account for the destruction of unsold cannabis products and to report the exact weight of destroyed cannabis.

What are the operating hours for a retail shop?

Illlinois does not require dispensaries to operate during certain hours, but it does require them to inform state authorities of their operating hours. Illinois requires dispensaries to be open for a minimum of 35 hours per week.

Can I have public-facing displays on my storefront?

Yes. Dispensaries may not advertise within 1,000 feet of schools, playgrounds, child care centers, public parks, or libraries, and may not take out advertisements on public property. Dispensaries may put public-facing displays on their own property.

How old does someone need to be to buy cannabis?

Licensed medical marijuana patients must be at least 18 years of age. Patients under the age of 18 can only obtain medical marijuana products if they suffer from seizures and appoint a certified caregiver for the purpose.

What is seed-to-sale reporting and what is required of retailers?

Illlinois dispensaries must report full seed-to-sale logistics data to state authorities. This information includes cannabis product batch numbers and authorizations for each product. This allows state authorities to track sales and supply chain movement in order to prevent cannabis products from being diverted towards the black market.

Sources:

http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs3.asp?ActID=3503&ChapterID=35
http://www.dph.illinois.gov/topics-services/prevention-wellness/medical-cannabis
https://www2.illinois.gov/sites/mcpp/Documents/Dispensary%20Application%20Instructions.pdf
https://www.stltoday.com/news/local/illinois/want-to-open-a-marijuana-dispensary-in-illinois-it-will/article_2c6c7ae3-b637-59b6-a7ae-47e55474a0d2.html
http://www.dph.illinois.gov/topics-services/prevention-wellness/medical-cannabis/medical-cannabis-registry-application

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