How To Open A Dispensary In Illinois?

It’s natural for entrepreneurs to contemplate operating a dispensary now that recreational marijuana has been legalized in Illinois. The problems of operating a dispensary are similar to those of any other business, with the addition of various specific licensing and permission issues. When opening your dispensary, make sure to follow all of the rules and keep common business guidelines in mind. In this blog post, we’ll go through cannabis legislation, license kinds and how to get them, tax rates, and more.

Before you even consider starting a dispensary in Illinois, be sure you understand the permits and licensing requirements, as well as the likelihood of competitive permission and licensing process. Illinois will approve up to 390 adult-use cannabis licenses by 2025, not including the 110 licenses for medical cannabis businesses.

Can I Open a Dispensary in Illinois Right Now?

Yes, you can open a dispensary in Illinois right now. The first batch included 75 conditional adult-use licenses that were issued around May 1, 2020. Applications have already begun, and applicants who tick all the boxes will get the license. These 75 conditional permissions were also divided up by region, with the number of licenses to be granted in each area determined by population. A total of up to 110 licenses were authorized by December 21, 2021, in addition to the 75 already approved. 

Due to the limited number of licenses available in Illinois, as well as the limited number of licenses available in specific sections of the state, competition is expected to be fierce, particularly in areas with lower populations. 

Your competitors in the space will include:

  • Sunnyside
  • Verilife
  • Ascend
  • EarthMed
  • Rise
  • Beyond / Hello Sauget
  • Enlightened
  • Maribis of Springfield and more

How Much Can You Buy?

Illinois citizens over the age of 21 can buy up to one ounce of flower (dry herb) and five grams of cannabis concentrate under the new law (such as hashish or tincture). Visitors to Illinois are allowed to have half of those amounts.

Current Cannabis laws in Illinois

  • Illinois residents who are 21 years or older can possess:
    • Up to 30 grams of cannabis
    • Up to 500 mg of THC
    • Cannabis concentrates up to 5 grams
  • Out of state individuals can possess half of what an Illinois resident can possess.
  • Only licensed dispensaries can sell marijuana in Illinois.
  • Qualified patients with a doctor’s recommendation, may legally consume medical marijuana after registering with the state.
  • Individual cultivation is not permitted.

How Much Cannabis Can an Adult in Illinois Possess?

Qualified patients can possess up to 30 grams of cannabis, up to 500 mg of THC, and up to 5 grams of cannabis concentrates.

Tax Rates in Illinois

Illinois has some of the highest recreational cannabis tax rates in the country. A 7% wholesale tax and a 15% retail excise tax are included in the package.

Current Cannabis Market in Illinois

This year, recreational cannabis retail sales climbed steadily to more than $1.2 billion, representing an 85 percent increase from 2020 to November 2021. There were 136,000 active patients in the medical cannabis program, who spent another $362 million. In the fiscal year 2021, the sales earned more than $300 million in tax revenue.

Types of Cannabis Licenses in Illinois

Following are the types of medical cannabis licenses processed in Illinois:


This is a storefront where patients can buy cannabis. Dispensary licenses can allow records-keeping, advertising, inventory monitoring, security, location, and product testing, but under strict state-mandated regulations.

Illinois dispensaries are only permitted to operate between the hours of 6 a.m. and 8 p.m., must be at least 1,000 feet from a school, and are not permitted to grow cannabis.

Marijuana Cultivation Centers

Cannabis plants are grown indoors or outdoors in these businesses, often known as grow operations. Marijuana is subsequently processed and turned into extracts or oils, or it is sold in flower form to a dispensary. Cannabis-infused items like brownies and tinctures can be made by cultivators as long as they don’t require refrigeration or any other preservation. Cultivators, like dispensaries, are heavily regulated in Illinois.

Subsidiary Business

There are lots of alternative ways to engage in the expanding cannabis industry if you don’t want to cultivate or sell cannabis in Illinois. You can start a marijuana app, a payment processing business, a consulting firm, a pest management product, an accounting firm, an automated plant watering system, a security service, a package labeling service, or a law firm.

How to Get a License

The Illinois state government is accepting applications for licenses for dispensaries, cultivation facilities, manufacturing facilities, and testing facilities. Be ready with all relevant documents and make no errors while filling out the application.  

Here’s what we know about how to open a dispensary in Illinois so far:

  • Applicants have to pass an annual criminal history background check to acquire or renew a cannabis license.
  • Organize all documents such as articles of incorporation, agreements, certificates of good standing, and others.
  • A good business plan.

Illinois Dispensary Fees

Type of FeeAmount
Non-refundable Application Fee$5,000
License Fee$30,000
Annual License Renewal Fee$25000

What Else Do You Need to Open a Dispensary in Illinois?

Step 1

Understand Cannabis Laws In Illinois

Before applying for a cannabis license, you must know that each state’s cannabis regulations are unique. Be sure to understand the regulations and laws to stay compliant, and run your cannabis business successfully.

Step 2

Create A Solid and Scalable Business Plan

You want to create a fantastic business plan that would entice investors, but you don’t know where to start. Fortunately, we have some excellent advice for you! Check out this in-depth, step-by-step guide to writing a killer business plan:

Market Research

Explain your market research and marketing strategy, including sales projections, deadlines and milestones, PR, and how you are going to compete with your competitors. If you don’t have a lot of data analysis, you can for testimonials from your clients.

Competitive analysis 

Research your direct and indirect cannabis business competitors’ strengths and shortcomings. Establish how you’ll acquire a competitive advantage over your cannabis competitors.

Sales & Marketing Plan

The sales and marketing section explains your sales strategy, pricing plan, intended advertising and promotion efforts, and all of the benefits of your products/services in detail. This is where you’ll layout your dispensary’s unique selling proposition, explain how you’ll get your cannabis products/services to market, and persuade people to buy them.

Financial Plan

Because starting a business is primarily about generating a profit, it’s critical to show that you understand your present financial situation, capital requirements, and future income. Provide a summary of your funding requirements, full financial statements, and a financial statement analysis in the financial section. This section of the business plan is where you show the three most important financial records for any company: the balance sheet, income statement, and cash flow statement (or, in the case of a new company, a cash flow projection).

Operations Plan

The operations plan outlines the specifics of how your company will be run. It includes information about your company’s physical location, descriptions of its facilities and equipment, the types of employees required, inventory requirements, suppliers, and any other relevant operational details that are specific to your industry, such as a description of the manufacturing process or specialty items required in day-to-day operations.

Step 3

Staffing Your Dispensary in Illinois

It cannot be overstated how important your team members are to the success of your company. This human element of the issue is frequently disregarded, which makes it all the more vital for you to pay attention to it.

Find smart individuals who are a good fit for your cannabis company. Building a team of people that move quickly, work hard, and actually care is the most critical thing you can do early on. Your product will evolve over time, and your early team members will have a significant influence on its development. 

Step 4

Choose Your Location With Care

You should choose your dispensary’s location wisely for the best results. Within six months of receiving your license, you must choose a location. It must be easily accessible, capable of safely dispensing cannabis, and not within 1,000 feet of another dispensary, a place of worship, a residential zone, or a school. Of course, you’ll want to choose a reliable location from a business standpoint, where your clients will be able to find you and where you’ll have potential clients nearby. 

Step 5

Tech Integration with Leading Technology Partner 

A robust IT architecture and security system are essential for running a successful cannabis dispensary. So, you must contact Cure8 IT professionals once your license has been approved and you are ready to start your dispensary. From the ground up, we can develop and design your store. We provide everything you need to complete your store’s IT infrastructure, from Wi-Fi to tablets, scanners, printers, security cameras, and more.

How Can Cure8 Help?

Cure8 is a one-stop technology solutions provider that can help improve your company’s performance. We collaborate with your team to evaluate which IT services and solutions are most appropriate for your cannabis company. IT consulting, managed IT services, and custom hardware and software solutions are all included.

Check out more about our solutions here.

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