Illinois Marijuana Distribution License

Interested in starting a Cannabis business in Illinois?

Does Illinois Require a License to Distribute Marijuana and Marijuana Products?

Persons who want to distribute cannabis and cannabis-infused products in Illinois will need to obtain a Transporter Organization license from the Department of Agriculture (IDOA). This license enables a cannabis business in Illinois to transport marijuana products on behalf of other marijuana business operations in the state. Cannabis facilities are legally unable to move products without possessing a transporter organization license or working with a licensed transporter organization. The Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act legalized adult-use marijuana from January 1, 2020, and established business licenses from new entrants to the cannabis market. A cannabis transport organization license in Illinois does not directly involve the manufacture, production, or sales of cannabis products. A transport organization can be held in isolation by the person or entity or in conjunction with other cannabis business licenses.

The Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act mandated the IDOA to issue transport organization licenses no later than July 1, 2021. Applications were opened on January 7, 2020, and closed on March 15, 2020. Subsequently, this process will be repeated every January 7 after that, at the direction of the Department. There is no limit to the number of Transporter licenses that can be issued in Illinois.

What Distribution Activities are Covered by Illinois Marijuana Distribution License?

An Illinois transport organization license identifies the license holder as a legally registered distribution service for cannabis businesses in the state. Valid transport organization license holders may only transport cannabis and cannabis-infused products between cannabis business licensees, such as from a cultivation center to a dispensary. Licensed transport organizations can transport cannabis between all other types of licensed cannabis business operations. However, license holders will not be allowed to transport marijuana across state lines.

Does Illinois Offer Transport-Only Distributor License?

Adult-use cannabis distribution licenses established by the Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act in Illinois are referred to as transport organization licenses. These types of licenses are stand-alone and can be held by entities with no direct involvement in the cultivation, manufacture, or sales of cannabis. Holders of these licenses can transport cannabis products on behalf of themselves or other cannabis business operations in Illinois. Cannabis products can not be moved from one location to another without a transport license.

How to Get Marijuana Distribution License in Illinois

Applicants for adult-use transport organization licenses must complete the Cannabis Transporter application and exhibit form and submit it to the Department of Agriculture (IDOA). The application must be submitted in person, along with a non-refundable application fee of $5,000. This should be a cashier’s check or money order made payable to the Department. Applicants who qualify for social equity status are eligible to receive a 50% discount on the application fee. The completed application must be stored on a USB drive, and the applicant must submit five copies of this. Two copies of the application should be redacted to remove private information, as defined by the Freedom of Information Act, and the others should be unredacted. Each USB drive should be labeled externally with the applicant’s name and either ‘R” for redacted copies or “UR” for unredacted copies.

All exhibits included in the application should be saved in separate files on the USB drives, and each file should be concisely labeled and numbered. Unless marked as optional, all exhibits required for this application are mandatory and must be provided. Any absent exhibits will result in the applicant not being awarded any points in that category by the Department. The exhibits to be included in a Cannabis Transporter application are:

A: Business Plan - 180 points

B: Suitability of Employee Training Plan - 160 points

C: Security and Recordkeeping - 200 points

D: Social Equity Applicant - 200 points

E: Labor and Employment Practices - 20 points

F: Environmental Plan - 20 points

G: Illinois Resident Controlled or Owned - 100 points

H: Veteran Controlled and Owned - 20 points

I: Diversity Plan - 100 points

J: Bonus Section (Optional)

K: Notice of Proper Zoning

L: Financial Interest Disclosure

M: Principal Officer or Board Member Disclosure Statement

N: Notarized Statement

O: Fingerprint Consent Form

The IDOA will issue an applicant who scores at least 75% of the available points a license within 60 days of receiving their application. Medical marijuana cultivation centers that meet the obligations for transport licenses as required by the Department will receive their licenses within 60 days of their application.

Applicants should make their submissions in person on normal business days, between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., at the Department of Agriculture:

John R. Block Building

801 East Sangamon Avenue

Springfield, IL 62702

James R. Thompson Center

100 West Randolph Street

Chicago, IL 60601

Successful applicants will be notified by the IDOA and must pay a license fee of $10,000 before receiving their Illinois transport organization license. A transport organization license must be renewed annually for the holder to retain their statutory rights. License holders shall receive a notification 90 days before the expiration of their licenses. A renewal of a cannabis transporter license shall be granted within 45 days of the Department receiving the application, provided;

  • The Department has not suspended or revoked the applicant’s previous license.
  • The applicant meets all the requirements set forth by the Department.

How Much Does Marijuana Distribution License Cost in Illinois?

An Illinois cannabis transporter license application costs a non-refundable fee of $5,000. Applicants who qualify for social equity status are entitled to pay $2,500. According to the Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act (CRTA), social equity applicants must meet at least one of the following criteria to qualify:

At least 51% control of the license must be owned by one or more individuals who;

  • Have suffered incarceration or been adjudicated delinquent for an offense currently eligible for expungement under the CRTA or members of their family; or
  • Have resided in a disproportionately impacted area for at least five of the past ten years.

At least ten persons must be in full-time employment under by the applicant and of which 51% of the current employees;

  • Currently reside in disproportionately impacted areas; or
  • Have been incarcerated or adjudicated delinquent for an offense currently eligible for expungement under the CRTA or members of their family.

Successful applicants for an Illinois transporter license must then pay $10,000 ($5,000 for social equity licensees) to receive their licenses. Illinois cannabis transporter license renewals must be done annually for the license holder to retain their statutory rights. There is also a $10,000 non-refundable fee for renewing a cannabis transporter license in Illinois.

Can Licensed Marijuana Distributors Also Get Other Cannabis Licenses in Illinois?

The Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act (CRTA) does not limit the number of cannabis transporter licenses that a single individual or entity can hold. The CRTA also enables a single individual or entity to possess different types of cannabis licenses simultaneously if they are eligible. However, there are limits on the number of other cannabis licenses issued in Illinois an individual or entity can hold. In August 2021, the Department of Agriculture released a list of successful applicants for adult-use cannabis business licenses in Illinois.

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Illinois Marijuana Distribution License