Illinois released a dispensary business license application for new and existing businesses. Applications will begin being accepted on December 10th, 2019.  As with many legalized states, the licensing process is competitive and the application process in arduous.  


Illinois' application process has one unique factor which is the very clear focus on wanting to create social equity and opportunity for economically disadvantaged areas. There are decreased fees for social equity applicants, therefore lowering the barriers to entry.


Illinois currently has 55 dispensaries and will be allocating 75 additional dispensary licenses in this round of applications.  It is projected that more applications will be released next year, for award in 2021.  


Recreational/Adult Use cannabis sales begin inIllinois on January 1, 2020.  Until now, the state has been a medical marijuana market. With an estimates state population of 12.7 Million, Recreational/Adult Use Sales are likely to meet or exceed projections.  The earning potential in the well-populated state makes the competition for dispensary licenses even more of high stakes play.


For interested dispensary license applicants, J. Whitney & Co. has provided an Illinois dispensary license 2019 application process summary below.






PROJECT TYPE: Cannabis Business LicenseApplication

There will be question and answer opportunities so applicants can submit questions about anything which they are unclear. The regulators will respond to these questions, only when submitted by the appropriate time.


SubmitQuestions via email to

  • Question Opportunity 1:  Submit by October 15th at 5:00pm EST
  • Question Opportunity 2: Submit by November 15th at5:00pm EST


Find Answers to Questions at

  • Answers to Question Opportunity 1: October 25th at5:00pm EST
  • Answers to Question Opportunity 2: November 25th at5:00pm



  • Division will not respond to questions received after November 15th
  • Division will not respond to questions via meeting, phone call, etc. [will respond to written Qs only]


During theQ&A opportunities, any member of the team may submit questions about anything within the application about which they are unclear.  





WHEN to submit application:

  • OPEN: December 10th at 9:30am EST
  • CLOSE: January 2nd at 12:00pm EST
  • License decisions by May 2020


WHERE to submit application

IllinoisDepartment of Financial and Professional Regulation Cannabis Control Section
100 W. Randolph - 9th Floor
Chicago, Illinois 60601


WHAT to submit


  • Cashier's Check or Money order for $5,000 for each license (i.e. 10 applications = 10 $5,000 fees)
  • Make Cashier's Check(s) or Money order(s) out to IllinoisDepartment of Financial and Professional Regulation


Completed Application

9"X12" manila envelope(s) (CLASPED & not sealed)

Information to include on exterior of the envelope(s):

  • Applicant name
  • Name of BLS region where applying for dispensary (note: Each BLS region requires separate application submission)
  • Number of licenses applied for in that single BLS region
  • Name of primary contact
  • Phone number of primary contact
  • E-mail address of primary contact
  • Name of alternate (secondary) contact
  • Phone number of alternate (secondary) contact
  • E-mail address of alternate (secondary) contact

Contents to include inside of the envelope(s)

  • Completed application form
  • fee payment
  • photocopy of fee payment
Submitting an application for a dispensary license in Illinois 2019

HOW to correctly format the application

  • Each exhibit shall be saved as an individual PDF
  • Exhibit PDF files should be named simply with"Exhibit [Letter]" (ex. Exhibit A)

The Principal Officers shall remain ANONYMOUS [Non-Identified] throughout the application, with the exception of these forms/exhibits:

    1. Application form

    2. Exhibit A - Photocopy of application fee

    3. Exhibit B - Principal Officer application forms

    4. Exhibit C - Business bylaws/entity agreement/article

    5. Exhibit O - Financial information

    6. Exhibit P - Evidence of status as social equity applicant

    7. Exhibit S - Evidence of status as Illinois owner

    8. Exhibit T - Evidence of status as a Veteran


There ARE page limits for these exhibits:

Exhibit D - EmployeeTraining & Education [15]

Exhibit E -Purchaser Education [10]

Exhibit F -Business Plan [30]

Exhibit G -Recall, quarantine, destruction [10]

Exhibit H -Security [50]

Exhibit I -Inventory & Records [15]

Exhibit J -Floor plan [10]

Exhibit K -Operating plan [40]

Exhibit L -Community engagement [10]

Exhibit M -Diversity plan [2,500 words]

Exhibit N -Narrative of Principal Officers' knowledge & experience [3 pages / per officer]

Exhibit Q -Labor & Employment [10]

Exhibit R -Environmental [5]


Page Total: 210+ [likely more; this only factors in 1 Principal Officer]


There are NO page limits for these exhibits:

Exhibit A -Photocopy of application fee

Exhibit B -Principal Officer Application forms

Exhibit C -Ownership, control & agreements

Exhibit O - Financials

Exhibit P -Evidence of status as Social Equity Applicant

Exhibit S -Evidence of status as Illinois owner

Exhibit T -Evidence of status as Veteran


With these unlimited sections, the application submitted could be thousands of pages, most especially due to financials and tax returns of Principal Officers/Owners. These thousands of pages will have to be printed and organized for application submittal and will have to be formed into PDF files of the appropriate naming.  


apply for an illinois dispensary license
Chicago, IL - Illinois Dispensary Application 2019





Principal Officers

  • Provide thorough, well written, resumes and biographies
  • Get fingerprinted for background check according to application requirements [immediately]
  • Collaborate with Cannabis Strategist/Consultant in developing Exhibit N [Knowledge and experience of principal officers]
  • Complete forms accurately in a timely manner
  • Provide all financial information required, in a timely manner
  • Provide input on business plan when needed [Exhibit F]
  • Provide applicant company articles of organization or incorporation
  • Provide applicant company bylaws
  • Form business which will apply for the license [if not already formed]
  • Provide operating agreement for the business which will apply for the license(s)
  • Collaborate with Cannabis BusinessStrategist/Consultant on understanding and accurately representing the ownership and control structure for the business which will be applying for the license(s).
  • Provide any and all information which may strengthen any piece of the application
  • Get the correct number of money orders or cashier's checks for the application fees made out to "Illinois Department ofFinancial and Professional Regulation," in the correct dollar amount.
applying for a dispensary in illinois

Cannabis Business Strategy/Consulting Firm

  • Project Management
  • Provide industry specific documents and operating procedures for each application section
  • Refine documents to fit highest value content into the page limit
  • Ensure the documentation is compliant with state regulations
  • Ensure documentation meets all application requirements
  • Collaborate with architect in facility floor layout
  • Collaborate with security company in creating security plan documentation that meets and exceeds application requirements
  • Collaborate with financial expert on cannabis business specific financial plan
  • Ensure all pieces of the application are completed and submitted in a timely manner so the application can be properly assembled(this may include collaborating with lawyers, financial experts, owners)


NOTE: Cannabis Business Strategy/Consulting Firm may have the following expert resources within the firm to fulfill the required duties listed below.

Government/Community Relations

Speak to people in each desired BLS application location and get letters of support from community members and officials in those areas.

Accountant (s) and/or Financial Advisor(s)

  • Develop strong financial plan
  • Help secure $100,000+ in a place where it is guaranteed to be available for the dispensary project contingent upon award of a license
  • Compile tax returns for principal officers (prove funding)
  • Compile bank statements for principal officers(prove funding)
  • Create summary sheet of all bank accounts and taxes paid for Principal Officers/Owners
  • Write a letter certifying the funds available       


  • Ensure application Exhibits are each properly cited with regulations (proofread application)
  • Ensure forms are properly filled
  • Contact necessary organization (union) for a labor peace agreement OR;
  • Draft a proposed labor peace agreement and a statement certifying that the applicant will engage in a labor peace agreement.
  • Write a reasonable assurance that the issue of a license will not have a detrimental impact on the community in which the applicant intends to locate.


  • Develop floor plans pursuant to all application requirements [Exhibit J]
  • Draw floor plan that includes the security system equipment

Security Company

  • Advise on security plan [Exhibit H]
  • Sign contract with ownership team [Exhibit H]
  • Work with Architect to create accurate drawings of security equipment placement throughout the facility




To submit a legitimately competitive application, the project will have to be closely managed and all members of the team will need to put an exceptional amount of energy into fulfilling their duties to the fullest extent. When competing for a limited number of cannabis business licenses the competition is fierce, so there are necessary states of mind and willingness to act which must exist among all members of the team for the application to have any chance of making it to the finish line and persevering:

  • Sense of urgency
  • Ready to be involved in the process when necessary
  • Ready to fulfill each of their individual responsibilities
  • Ready to engage and collaborate with any professionals necessary to compile personal documentations (financial), with haste.
  • Have a serious desire to enter the cannabis industry
  • Understand the level of competition which exists in this licensing process
  • Understand the level of performance which is required by an entire team to viably compete in such a process.
  • Have adequate funding for the licensing application process, and for the cannabis business(es)


Connect with us at to discuss how our team can help your team with cannabis business license applications in Illinois and other legalized cannabis markets, both medical and recreational/adult use.