A 'craft grower' under Illinois law means a facility operated by an organization or business that is licensed by the department of agriculture to cultivate, dry, cure, and package cannabis and perform other necessary activities to make cannabis available for sale at a dispensing organization or use at a processing organization. A craft grower may utilize up to 5,000 square feet of canopy space on its premises for plants in the flowering state. The Department of Agriculture may authorize an increase or decrease of flowering stage cultivation space in increments of 3,000 square feet based on market need, craft grower capacity, and/or the licensee’s history of compliance or non-compliance, with a maximum space of 14,000 square feet for cultivating plants in the flowering stage, which must be cultivated in all stages of growth in an enclosed and secure area.
A craft grower may share premises with a processing organization or a dispending organization or both, provided that each licensee stores currency and cannabis or cannabis-infused products in a separate vault to which the other licensee does not have access or all licensees sharing a vault share more than 50% of the same ownership.
How Can I Get a Craft Grower License in Illinois?
The Department of Agriculture will issue up to 40 craft grower licenses by July 1st, 2020. Those who receive a craft growers license at this time may not sell the license until the end of the following year (December 21, 2021), and they may not hold more than 1 craft grower license. Between July 1st, 2020 and December 21st, 2021, the Department of Agriculture will issue up to another 60 Illinois craft grower licenses for a total of 100. After the start of 2022, the Department of Agriculture may issue an addition 50 craft grower licenses.
What Does the Application Process for a Craft Grow License in Illinois Require?
The cannabis lawyers at Wolfe Miglio will help you through the entire application process for a Craft Grow License in Illinois, which must include the following:
- A non-refundable $5,000 application fee which shall be deposited into the cannabis regulation fund. This means that if you apply and do not receive a license, this $5,000 will not be returned to you. This fee is a barrier to entry meant to ward off non-serious applicants
- Legal name of the craft grower;
- The proposed physical address of the craft grower;
- Personal information about the principal officers and board members, all of whom must be over the age of 21;
- Details of past judicial or administrative hearings which ended in a guilty plea or a revocation/suspension of a license;
- Proposed operating bylaws including supervision protocols pertaining to the development and implementation of plant monitoring, staffing, recordkeeping, and security. Its important to note that a physical inventory of all plants must be internally performed on a weekly basis by the craft grower;
- Verification from the State Police that background checks of officers, board members, and agents have been performed;
- Copies of local zoning ordinances or permits to verify that grower is in compliance.
- Proposed employment practices demonstrating a plan to educate and hire 'minorities, women, veterans, and persons with disabilities' along with plans for fair labor practices and worker protections;
- Any demonstrated experience with business practices which promote economic empowerment in disproportionality affected areas;
- Any demonstrated experience with the cultivation or management of agricultural or horticultural products or businesses;
- A description and survey of the locked, enclosed facility and the space used for cultivation along with plans for where cannabis will be grown, harvested, manufactured, packaged, or prepared for distribution;
- List of academic degrees, certifications, and other relevant experience from all parties involved;
- Plans describing how the craft grower will address electricity conservation and needs; water conservation and needs; waste management; recycling; storage; lighting; HVAC; and other technical operational considerations;
- Commitments for responsible and efficient use of water and energy; the responsible and proper disposal of solid and liquid waste; and compliance with local and state provisions pertaining to the storage, security, management of recyclables and waste as well as technology standards at the facility;
- Failure to submit all necessary documents or information may result in disqualification of the application. However, they may choose to be nice about it and give you a notice that your application is deficient and allow you 10 calendar days to rectify the situation; if you receive this chance, the opportunity to correct any deficiencies will only be extended once.
All of the applicant's proposals, plans and protocols become a condition of the cannabis craft grow license if an applicant is awarded with a cannabis dispensary license. As a result, applicants must be careful to be realistic and not overpromise during their application period, or they may find themselves stripped of their license in due time.
How is Illinois Scoring and Comparing Applications for a Craft Grow License in Illinois?
The method of scoring for craft grower licenses is slightly more vague than other licenses. However, the scoring metric for the other types of cannabis business licenses in Illinois lead us to believe that the committee will be looking for strong security, organized and secure recordkeeping, a thoughtful and detailed business plan with projections, financials, plans and guidelines for operations, a diverse hiring policy, and knowledge or experience in cannabis. Another unique factor is status as a Social Equity Applicant.
What is a Social Equity Applicant?
If granting a license to an applicant would, in some way, "level the playing field" for minority communities that were hit the hardest by prosecution during the war on drugs, then they may be considered a social equity applicant. More specifically a Social Equity Applicant is a resident of Illinois that meets one of the following criteria:
- An applicant with at least 51% ownership and control by one or more individuals who have resided for at least 5 of the preceding 10 years in a disproportionately impacted area;
- An application with at least 51% ownership and control by one or more individuals who:
- Has been arrested for, convicted of, any offence that is eligible for expungement under Illinois’ new marijuana legislation; or
- Is a member of an impacted family;
- For applicants with a minimum of 10 full-time employees, an applicant with at least 51% of current employees who:
- Currently reside in a disproportionately impacted area; or
- Have been arrested for, convicted of, or adjudicated delinquent for any offence that is eligible for expungement under Illinois’ new marijuana legislation or member of an impacted family.
Some Useful Tips to Help You Apply for your Cannabis Craft Grow License:
- Make sure to have your security plan reviewed by the Department of State Police and that your plan includes facility access controls, perimeter intrusion detection systems, 24-hour surveillance, and personal identification systems to ensure security procedures in your application are looked upon favorably.
- Make sure to double check the zoning ordinances for your proposed location. A grow license will not be issued for a location zoned for residential use or a location that is too close to a school.
- Craft growers will be subject to random inspections by the Department of Agriculture, local safety or health inspectors, and the Department of State Police. Take this into account in your security procedures to ensure that there is nothing that would inhibit these inspections or cause problems for the inspectors.
- Be familiar with the county in which you wish to open your craft grow operation. There are transportation restrictions based on the population of your county.
- A craft grower cannot be located within 1,500 feet of another.
- Know your tax obligations! There is a 7% tax rate on the gross receipts from the sale of cannabis by a craft grower to a dispensing organization. Operating a craft grow operation will also subject you to other tax obligations from the sale of cannabis.
- Hire a knowledgeable attorney to assist you with your application to give your application the best chance of success. The cannabis lawyers at Wolfe Miglio can help!