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Illinois recreational licenses

First Recreational Licenses Awarded in Illinois

by | Sep 5, 2019 | Latest News, Rotary Evaporators, Short Path


On August 29, Illinois officials announced that they’ve awarded the state’s first recreational cannabis licenses. These went to five medical dispensaries already operating in the state. Chicago’s Green Thumb Industries was the first to be awarded such a license. Dozens more permits are expected to be disseminated in oncoming weeks. Illinois plans to license a total of 75 recreational dispensaries by May 2020. It’ll hand out 40 processor and 40 craft grower licenses by July. And in December 2021, an additional 110 retailers, 60 processors, and 60 craft grower licenses will be granted. 

There are currently 55 medical dispensaries operating within the state. Each was given the opportunity to apply for a recreational license. But they won’t be able to make sales until after January 1, when recreational cannabis becomes legal. Though state law is clear, municipalities must decide whether or not to allow such retailers within their borders. Should a municipality fail to decide, a licensed company will be allowed to take root within their community. 

Some see it as a tax windfall. Municipalities can charge a 3% sales tax. This comes on the heels of state and excise taxes. Although popular with townships, advocates see such taxes as hurdles to a healthy legal market. A high cost for product will likely convince most consumers to remain active participants in the black market. Despite this, a mature Illinois market could generate up to $2.5 billion in sales, according to Marijuana Business Daily. Adult consumers will be allowed to purchase up to 30 grams of flower or up to 5 grams of concentrate.

Location Issues

Originally, the state would allow a medical dispensary to relocate and still keep their recreational license. Now, the Department of Financial and Professional Regulation altered the law’s interpretation. Operations are no longer able to keep their recreational licenses if they change location. The issue is so contentious, State Sen. Heather Steans (D) and Rep. Kelly Cassidy (D-Chicago) wrote Governor J. B. Pritzker (D), to denounce the reinterpretation. They say it threatens the program’s success. The Pritzker administration responded that they are open to discussing the matter, but caution to wait and see which municipalities decide to allow recreational dispensaries. The governor has tied the location issue to a social justice component built into the law. 

A Revolutionary licensing Model 

Illinois was the first state to legalize a retail model legislatively. It’s the 11th state to legalize overall. Legalization was part of Governor Pritzker’s platform in the last gubernatorial election. Another unique component, the state is offering a $30 million low-interest loan program to minority entrepreneurs due to the inequities their communities suffered in the War on Drugs. Such applicants will also qualify for grants, training, and mentorship. This may become a model other states consider adopting. The location issue is important because without controlling for territory, large companies could swallow up prime locations and licenses, crowding minority entrepreneurs out. 

This isn’t the first revolutionary cannabis law in the state’s history. Technically, Illinois passed a cannabis law back in 1978. The state legislature back then passed the Cannabis Control Act. It empowered the Illinois Department of Human Services to allow doctors to administer cannabis to glaucoma patients, or cancer patients undergoing radiation or chemotherapy, or any other malady deemed medically expedient. 

The trouble was, the state never mandated that the Human Services department inform doctors of this. What’s more, the state police had to sign off on any medical administrations of cannabis. So even though it was on the books, it was never put to use. Things have changed significantly since then. A medical cannabis law passed in August 2013 and was put into place in 2015. Now, an innovative recreational cannabis law will go into effect Jan. 1, 2020. 

Ai Vacuum 

With a number of extraction operations coming online in Illinois soon, post-processing equipment will be required to clean, refine, and polish their extracts and concentrates. These processors will most likely turn to Ai Vacuum, the topmost provider of high-quality post-harvest equipment. One of the things processors come to Ai for is solvent reclamation equipment. 

For this, we recommend our SolventVap series rotary evaporators. Ai’s 10-liter model is well-known industry-wide. It’s efficient, reliable, and puts out perfectly uniform results with each use. A specially designed motor and worm gear provide quiet, vibration-free rotation at speeds of 100 to 180 RPM. It has a digital water bath, which offers precise temperature control, allowing it to go from ambient temperature to 99°C (210°F). The bath has a PID controller, too. It’s so precise, it steps up the temperature at 0.1°C increments.


For distillation, we recommend an Ai short path distillation kit. The 10-liter model is especially popular in the industry. Each glass piece is made of heavy-wall, high borosilicate glass 3.3. This is one of the most durable types on the market. It’s resistant to cold, heat, and corrosion. Another important feature is its large vacuum jacket. This provides extremely efficient fractioning. And its increased head diameter significantly reduces the risk of clogging. Moreover, PTFE thermo inlet adapters and Viton gaskets are corrosion-resistant, meaning the kit will last a long, long time.

For short path hot condenser tech or to move distillate out of your short path’s head, you’ll need a heated recirculator. Ai’s 200°C 15-liter model is the best out there. It’s easy to use, rugged, reliable, and offer unparalleled performance. Consistent flow rates are provided by a powerful, force-suction pump. Another important feature, the temperature is precisely controlled through a 2nd generation PID controller. This heated recirculator is quiet, has an adjustable pumping speed, and is easy to program using a 7” touchscreen. It even has a small footprint, so it won’t take up a lot of space. 

To gain some insight into Illinois’s burgeoning market through an interview with the CEO of Cresco Labs, click here: 

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