How to Open a Dispensary in Illinois

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Currently, there are 56 dispensaries operating in Illinois, and cultivation centers operating in 17 districts of the state. Legislation for the state’s cannabis program is far from finalized. The state law includes a sunset clause stating that Illinois will either have to extend it the current program or pass a new version by the end of 2018. However, the state’s current program is worth 225 million dollars annually, so the state’s program is attractive to big time investors. Here is everything you will need to know to start a dispensary in Maine.

Legalization in Illinois

The Illinois’ medical cannabis law, the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act (HB 1), was enacted in 2013. Its purpose was to create a temporary cannabis distribution program for qualifying patients within the state of Illinois.

HB 1 specifies 35 qualifying conditions  medical conditions. Unfortunately the list of conditions does not include chronic pain, often cited as the main reason to use medical cannabis for treatment around the world.

When was cannabis made legal

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The program allows patients to obtain up to 5 ounces of cannabis every month from one of the 60 licensed dispensaries. Cannabis products will be supplied by 22 different cultivation centers (one per district).

Caregivers and patients cannot operate cultivation centers. Public safety officials, minors, police and correctional officers, school bus and commercial drivers, firefighters, and anyone convicted of a drug-related felony are not eligible for the state’s program.

How Many Dispensaries Operate in Illinois?

Illinois state law has provisions for up to 60 dispensary licenses on the condition that they are awarded to qualified and applicants, and dispersed evenly throughout the state.

The state has so far reviewed 214 applicants. So far, 56 applicants have been issued a license, and have advanced to the registration stage. As of November 9th, 2015, eight dispensaries are currently in operation.

The Illinois Department of Agriculture has authorized cultivation centers to operate in 17 of the 22 districts.

What is Illinois’ Cannabis Market Worth?

Potential profits in cannabis sales in Illinois are expected to reach upwards of 225 million per year. The price of cannabis per ounce is 325 dollars.

The patient base in Illinois will reach 30 thousand and each patient is expected to consume 23 pounds per year. During the first year of operation, the cannabis industry is estimated to create more than 1,500 jobs statewide.

Owners & Licensing Requirements

Requirements for acquiring a license are quite stringent. Applicants must first undergo fingerprint background check, disclose any past bankruptcies, defaults on items such as student loans, child support or alimony. Finally, they must release full tax returns for previous years.

No medical cannabis licensing dates have been announced, although petitions to add debilitating medical conditions or diseases to the Illinois medical cannabis program are being accepted from Through the month of January and then through the month of July. That’s January and July, not January through July.

Owner and License requirements

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Prospective owners should be aware that there is a sunset clause (Section 220) in the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act, which will end the cannabis program by December 2018, that is unless Illinois chooses to extend it.

Financial Requirements

Illinois is one of the most costly states to start a cannabis business. Most people end up giving up on the idea once they figure out how much it costs.

You can expect the following expenses:

  • Non-refundable dispensary permit application fee: $5,000
  •  30k permit fee for the first year
  • 100k annual permit renewal
  • Applicants are also required to demonstrate 400 thousand in liquid assets as well as 50 thousand in escrow

Fees associated with operation of the dispensary:

  • Dispensary Registration Renewal Fee: 25k
  • Dispensing Agent Renewal Fee: 50k
  • Dispensing Agent Identification card replacement Fee: 50 dollars
  • Dispensary Registration Replacement Fee: 50 dollars


The licensing process in Illinois has many steps, so you can expect the entire process to take a year or more.

Consulting Companies

The following firms provide a variety of different services, including helping with state licensing requirements, as well as applications.


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