Regulators in Illinois have extended the operational deadline for some craft cannabis growers in the state.
The state’s Department of Agriculture said that its administrative rules “allow for craft growers to receive an operational extension for good cause shown, at the Department’s discretion,” and as such, it “has granted an operational extension to all craft grower license holders due to a number of factors, including ongoing Covid-19 impacts and supply chain issues.”
Under the state’s adult-use cannabis program, a “craft grower license allows the holder to cultivate, dry, cure and package cannabis,” according to Illinois Cannabiz Attorneys, which offers a primer on the license:
“To apply for this license, one must submit a completed application to the Department of Agriculture. The amount of cannabis a license holder can grow is limited by square footage. A craft grower may have up to 5,000 square feet of canopy space for marijuana plants in the flowering stage. It should be noted that this space only includes the space occupied by the plants and does not include any aisles or walkways in between the plants. This amount may be increased over time in increments of 3,000 square feet based on the department’s determination of market need, capacity, and the license holder’s history of compliance. The largest space that will be allowed by the Department will be 14,000 square feet for plants in the flowering stage.”
The Department of Agriculture said that it had “previously authorized an operational deadline extension for 2021 Craft Growers which required them to become operational by March 1, 2023,” but that it “is now authorizing an additional extension applicable to all 2021 Craft Growers, extending their operational deadline to February 1, 2024.”
Legal adult-use cannabis sales took effect in Illinois in 2020, the result of a bill signed by Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker the previous year.
“As the first state in the nation to fully legalize adult-use cannabis through the legislative process, Illinois exemplifies the best of democracy: a bipartisan and deep commitment to better the lives of all of our people,” Pritzker said at the time. “Legalizing adult-use cannabis brings an important and overdue change to our state, and it’s the right thing to do. This legislation will clear the cannabis-related records of nonviolent offenders through an efficient combination of automatic expungement, gubernatorial pardon and individual court action. I’m so proud that our state is leading with equity and justice in its approach to cannabis legalization and its regulatory framework. Because of the work of the people here today and so many more all across our state, Illinois is moving forward with empathy and hope.”
The state hasn’t looked back ever since. In his “state of the state” address last month, Pritzker said that marijuana legalization “has created more than 30,000 jobs since 2020, and Illinois is home to the country’s most diverse cannabis industry and some of the largest companies.”
In January, Pritzker’s administration touted a record-setting year for cannabis sales in 2022, saying that “adult use cannabis dispensaries sold $1,552,324,820.37 worth of product, an increase of more than 12% from 2021 and 131% from 2020, the first year cannabis sales were first legally allowed in Illinois.”
“When I signed the Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act into law in 2019, we set out on an ambitious goal: to create the most equitable and economically prosperous cannabis industry in the nation. Our data from 2022 shows that we are well on our way towards making that idea a reality,” Pritzker said in a statement in January. “Not only did we break our previous sales record by more than 12% with a total of more than $1.5 billion, we also saw the first of our social equity adult use cannabis dispensaries open their doors for business—paving the way for an even stronger 2023.”