You can apply to run a recreational pot shop starting Tuesday — but hurry

Applications are being accepted for a limited time for the next 75 licenses to sell legal weed in Illinois.

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State regulators will begin accepting applications Tuesday for the next round of 75 recreational marijuana dispensary licenses.

AP file photo

State regulators will start accepting applications Tuesday for the next round of licenses to operate recreational pot shops in Illinois.

Applications will be accepted until Jan. 2 — the day after recreational sales kick off — and up to 75 conditional dispensary licenses will be issued by May 1, according to the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation.

But it’s not cheap: the application fee is $5,000, and it’s non-refundable.

The new licenses are the first being offered to individuals and companies that don’t already have a stake in the state’s weed industry, including the so-called social equity applicants that will get a leg-up in the application process if they have minor pot offenses on their records or live in areas that have been “disproportionately impacted” by past marijuana law enforcement policies. Employers can also qualify if the majority of their workforce lives in those areas or has been arrested for or convicted of similar crimes.

The $5,000 application fee will be cut in half for social equity applicants.

“As Illinois enters the next phase of its adult use cannabis program, we are committed to a process that is efficient, timely and most critically, continues to place equity at the forefront,” Gov. JB Pritzker said in October. “From ensuring social equity applicants receive points on their application to providing grants and technical assistance, this is a process that does more than any other state in the nation to make equity a priority.”

The new shops will be able to sell all types of cannabis products — from marijuana flower to edibles to tinctures — to anyone over the age of 21, per the state legalization law.

Forty-seven of the new licenses will be doled out to businesses in a region that covers Cook, Lake, Will, DuPage, Kane, Kendall, Grundy and McHenry counties. The rest of the state’s regions, defined by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, are being granted between one and four licenses.

On Jan. 7, the Illinois Department of Agriculture will begin accepting applications for licenses to grow, process and transport marijuana. The agency will then award up to 60 licenses by Dec. 21, 2021, to both craft growers and processors, as well as licenses for businesses that will move the drug.

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