Fraction of Craft Growers Operational in Illinois, Despite Dedicated Fund

Licensees say additional state funds may not be enough to succeed.

Just 10 out of 87 craft cultivation marijuana business permits issued in 2021 by Illinois are operational thus far, despite millions in state capital that’s been doled out to support the ventures.

The Illinois Cannabis Business Development Fund has handed out roughly $21 million to social equity entrepreneurs who were given the craft grow permits, the Illinois Answers Project reported. That’s out of $34 million that was intended to be devoted to the program.

While state lawmakers are considering adding another $40 million to the fund, some of the growers said they were uncertain it would make a difference as to whether they succeed or fail.

Herban Gardens founder Bobby Burns told the news outlet he now regrets going for a cultivation license over a dispensary permit, given that the former can cost $5 million to $10 million just for build-out costs and real estate, money that he and many other craft licensees have had a tough time pulling together from various sources.

Although Burns received $1.25 million from the state fund, he said he still has to raise millions more, and it’s unclear where that money may come from, if it ever materializes.

Adding to the hurdles is a 5,000-square-foot canopy limit for the craft growers, which makes their business licenses even less attractive for investors, the Answers Project reported. An attempt by Illinois lawmakers to raise that to 14,000 square feet failed.

The growers have new deadlines next year to be operational. If they fall short, the state could revoke their permits and give them to other applicants. First round craft permit winners have until Feb. 1, 2024, and second round winners have until Dec. 1, 2024.

John Schroyer

John Schroyer has been a reporter since 2006, initially with a focus on politics, and covered the 2012 Colorado campaign to legalize marijuana. He has written about the cannabis industry specifically since 2014, after being on hand for the first-ever legal cannabis sales on New Year’s Day that year in Denver. John has covered subsequent marijuana market launches in California and Illinois, has written about every aspect of the marijuana trade, and was part of the team that built the cannabis industry’s first-ever trade show, MJBizCon. He joined Green Market Report in 2022.

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