How to Win a Craft Growers License in Illinois

How to Win a Craft Growers License in Illinois

How to get a Craft Grower License in Illinois?

how to get a craft grower license

To become a craft grower in the state of Illinois, your company must submit its application for a craft grower license from the Department of Agriculture. In order to qualify for a craft grower license, an applicant must receive at least 75% of the points available.

In the 2020 round of 40, the craft grower applicants that receive at least 75% of the points will be eligible to win a craft grower’s license. The licenses will be awarded first to the highest scoring applicants, then down the line until all licenses have been awarded. Therefore, getting the maximum points available on every section of the application is very important.

  • In 2021 another 60 craft grower’s licenses will be awarded by the Illinois Department of Agriculture on the same basis – unless there is an amendment, subscribe to our newsletter to stay on top of Illinois Cannabis license news.

What is a Craft Grower license in Illinois Cannabis?

“Craft grower” 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 contain 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 by rule based on market need, craft grower capacity, and the licensee’s history of compliance or noncompliance, 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.

Illinois craft grower Application PDF

Illinois Craft Grower License Application Information

The State of Illinois was taking questions from Craft Grower license applicants

Craft Growers License Application

Applicants were encouraged to submit written questions to the Department regarding the application, application materials, or application process. The Department will post its responses on two dates as set forth below. The Department may summarize related questions and will not publish responses to repetitive questions, questions unrelated to the application process, or fact-specific hypothetical questions.

Illinois Craft Grower License Application Information

The Illinois Department of Agriculture will post the questions it receives and the Department’s responses on two dates. The first round of responses, for questions received by the Department by 5:00 p.m. on January 14, 2020, will be posted by 5:00 p.m. on January 21, 2020. The second round of responses, for questions received by 5:00 p.m. on January 28, 2020, will be posted by 5:00 p.m. on February 4, 2020. The Department will redact the questioner’s identity from the posted question and answer. The Department will not respond to non-written questions or questions submitted after January 28, 2020. Questions may be submitted to: [email protected]

Illinois Craft Grower License Application Exhibits

A: Suitability of the Proposed Facility

Suitability of the Proposed Facility Applicant must: (1) demonstrate that the proposed facility is suitable for effective and safe cultivation of cannabis; (2) demonstrate the ability to meet consumer demand by operating the craft grow facility in a safe and efficient manner with minimal impact on the environment and the surrounding community; and (3) provide an Operations and Management Practices Plan. Total Points: 75 Page Limit: 50

B: Suitability of Employee Training Plan

Suitability of the Employee Training Plan Applicant must: (1) describe a staffing plan that will provide and ensure adequate staffing and experience for accessible business hours, safe production, sanitation, security, and theft prevention; and (2) provide an employee handbook that will provide employees with a working guide of the administration and policies of the facilities. Total Points: 50 Page Limit: 15, not including a copy of the proposed handbook

C: Security Plan and Record keeping

Applicant must: (1) demonstrate its ability to prevent the theft or diversion of cannabis and how the plan will assist ISP, Department, and local law enforcement in carrying out law enforcement responsibilities, including evidence of compliance with all items in Sections 1300.355, 1300.380, and 1300.385 of the emergency rules; (2) demonstrate that its plan for record-keeping, tracking and monitoring inventory, quality control and security and other policies and procedures will discourage unlawful activity, including a description of the applicant’s plan to coordinate with and dispose of unused or surplus cannabis with ISP and the Department; (3) describe the enclosed, locked facility for securing and storing cannabis and the Applicant’s security measures, including measures for when the location is closed for business and steps taken to ensure that cannabis is not visible to the public; (4) Applicant must also provide its plan to apply for a transporter license or plan to work with a licensed transporter and the procedures for safely and securely delivering cannabis and cannabis-infused products to cannabis business establishments.  There are several new additions to the cannabis security plan some of the highlights are both 90-days recording onsite and 90 days cloud recordings must be available to the state.  The craft grow application Illinois does not require a security guard to be on location during hours of operation.  Total Points: 145 Page Limit: 65

D: Cultivation Plan

Applicant must: (1) describe its plan to provide a steady, uninterrupted supply of cannabis to registered dispensaries; (2) demonstrate knowledge of cultivation methods to be used, including the various strains to be cultivated and the Applicant’s experience, if applicable, with growing those strains or comparable agricultural products; (3) demonstrate the steps that will be taken to ensure the quality of the cannabis, including the purity and consistency, of the cannabis to be provided to dispensaries. Total Points: 75 Page Limit: 50

E: Product Safety and Labeling Plan

A Craft Grow applicant must: (1) describe its plan for safe and accurate packaging and labeling of cannabis; (2) describe its plan for testing cannabis and ensuring that all cannabis is free of contaminants; (3) describe its plan for establishing a product recall in the event of a product defect or adverse health consequences to consumers, including methods of identifying the product, notifying dispensaries and/or consumers, and disposal of the returned product. Total Points: 95 Page Limit: 55

F: Business Plan and Services to be Offered

cannabis business plan for craft grower’s license applicant must:

  1. provide a business plan that describes how the craft grower plans to operate on a long-term basis, including a detailed description about the amount and source of the equity and debt commitment and financial feasibility;
  2. demonstrate and/or describe the experience that the Applicant or its officers, board members, or incorporators have in business management, this industry, or agriculture and horticulture, and the extent of their involvement in or ability to influence the day-to-day operations of the facility;
  3. provide a startup timetable which provides an estimated time from permit approval to full operation, and the basis of the estimates. This should include a statement that license Applicant can demonstrate experience in or business practices that promote economic empowerment in Disproportionately Impacted Areas.
  4. Total Points: 110 Page Limit: 60

G: Social Equity Applicant

These are the normal Social Equity Applicant requirements that we have written extensively about – Click Here for more information regarding the social equity applicant component of the craft growers license.

200 points – no page limit.

H: Craft Growers License Applicant’s Labor and Employment Practices

Applicant must: provide a plan to provide a safe, healthy and economically beneficial working environment for its employees, including, but not limited to, its plans regarding workplace safety and environmental standards, codes of conduct, healthcare benefits, educational benefits, retirement benefits, living wage standards, and entering a labor peace agreement with employees. Total Points: 20 Page Limit: 10

I: Environmental Plan

Applicant must: (1) provide or demonstrate a plan to minimize the carbon footprint, environmental impact, and resource needs for the production of cannabis and; (2) describe any plans for the use of alternative energy, treatment of waste water and run off, and treatment of exchanged air. Total Points: 20 Page Limit: 10

J: Illinois Resident Controlled or Owned

Craft Growers License applicant must declare whether Applicant is Illinois Resident Controlled or Owned. If the Applicant is not applying as Illinois Resident Controlled or Owned, Applicant need not provide any further information in this Exhibit. If Applicant is applying as Illinois Resident Controlled or Owned, the Applicant must: provide tax records proving the facility will be 51% controlled or owned by an individual or individuals who have been an Illinois resident for each of the past 5 years. Total Points: 90 Page Limit: none

K: Veteran Controlled or Owned

Applicant must declare whether the Applicant is Veteran Controlled or Owned. If Applicant is not Veteran Controlled or Owned, Applicant need not provide any further information in this Exhibit. If Applicant is applying as Veteran owned or Controlled, Applicant must: provide evidence proving the facility will be 51% controlled or owned by a veteran, as defined in Section 45-57 of the Illinois Procurement Code (30 ILCS 500). Total Points: 20 Page Limit: none

L: Diversity Plan

Applicant must: provide a narrative that establishes a goal of diversity in ownership, management, employment, and contracting to ensure that diverse participants and groups are afforded equality of opportunity. Total Points: 100 Page limit: No more than 2500 words

M: Bonus Section (Optional)

In the event of a tie in scoring the Craft Grower applications, the Illinois Department of Agriculture may award up to 2 bonus points for preferred but not required initiatives in the following categories: (1) community benefits plan, (2) substance abuse prevention plan, (3) local community/neighborhood report. If submitting this Exhibit, the Applicant must: state the category (or categories) to which license Applicant has prepared a response. Each category and its corresponding response must be clearly labeled. Total Points: 2 per category Page Limit: 10 per category

N: Property Ownership

Applicant must submit different documentation depending on Applicant’s status as the property owner. If the property of the proposed location is leased by the Applicant, Applicant must submit: a copy of the lease, confirmation of land ownership, identification of any mortgagees and/or lienholders, a written statement from property owner and/or landlord certifying consent for a craft grow facility to be operated on the premises by the applicant at least through December 31, 2021, and if applicable, verification of notification by the property owner to any and all mortgagees and/or perfected lienholders that the property is to be used as a craft grow facility at least through December 31, 2021, and consent thereto by any mortgagees and/or perfected lienholders.

If the property is not owned or currently leased by the Applicant, Applicant must submit: a written statement from property owner and/or landlord certifying consent for the applicant to lease or purchase the land for the purpose of operating a craft grow facility at least through December 31, 2021, and if applicable, verification of notification by the property owner to any and all mortgagees and/or perfected lienholders that the property is to be used as a craft grow facility at least through December 31, 2021, and consent thereto by any mortgagees and/or perfected lienholders. If the property is owned by the Applicant, Applicant must submit: confirmation of land ownership, identification of any and all mortgagees and or perfected lienholders, and if applicable, verification of notification to any and all mortgagees and/or perfected lienholders that the property is to be used as a craft grow facility at least through December 31, 2021; and consent thereto by any mortgagees and/or perfected lienholders. Page limit: none

O: Notice of Proper Zoning

This Exhibit contains two parts: one to be completed by the Applicant, and one to be completed by the local zoning authority. Both parts must be completed.

P: Organizational Information and Financial Interest Disclosure

The license applicant must disclose all relevant financial information related to the craft grower. In responding to this Exhibit, Applicants are encouraged to review the definition of “financial interest” in the rules, and Sections 1300.305 and 1300.300(c)(22)-(27). The Craft Grower Applicant must provide:

1. The ownership structure of the Craft Grower, including the percentage ownership interest of each individual or business entity. This should identify all principal officers and business entities that through direct or indirect means, manage, own or control the interests and assets of the Craft Grower Applicant. a. Applicant must state what type of business entity it is: sole proprietor, partnership, limited partnership, limited liability partnership, corporation, limited liability company, or other.

i. Sole proprietors must provide the name, residence, and date of birth of the owner. ii. All partnerships must provide the names and addresses of all partners, both general and limited, and any partnership documents. iii. Limited partnerships, limited liability partnerships, corporations, and limited liability companies must provide a copy of a certificate of existence and a copy of a Certificate of Good Standing from the Illinois Secretary of State, issued within the last 60 days. iv. Limited liability companies must provide a copy of their Articles of Organization and a listing of the members of the limited liability company and their contact information. v. Corporations must provide a copy of their Articles of Incorporation, and a copy of assumed name registration issued by the Secretary of State if applicable. Corporations must also provide the names and addresses of all stockholders and directors of the corporation.

1. All foreign entities must provide the documentation applicable to their entity type above, plus a copy of a Certificate of Good Illinois craft grower licenseStanding from their jurisdiction of incorporation, and a copy of a Certificate of Authority issued by the Illinois Secretary of State.

2. A current organizational chart of the Craft Grower, including positions descriptions and names and resumes of persons occupying positions. Include any additional skills, education, or experience relevant to a craft grower that is not included in employees’ resumes.

3. Copies of compensation agreements, management agreements, supply agreements, or other financial documents between or among the Applicant and any persons having a financial interest and/or control in the licensee, including growers, owners, and officers, or a narrative if the agreement is oral.

4. Documentation establishing that Applicant has at least $20,000 in liquid assets.

5. Nature and type of any outstanding bonds, loans, lines of credit, etc., issued or executed, or to be issued or executed, in connection with the opening or operating of the proposed craft grower.

6. Disclosure of all sources of funding used to acquire or develop the craft grower business and documentation of such funding. Applicant must complete the below worksheet for any individual or entity identified in the above information.

Q: Principal Officer or Board Member Disclosure Statement

The Craft Grower principal officer form must be completed for each principal officer and/or board member. This form must be filled out entirely despite the potential appearance of duplicative information.

R. Notarized Statement

The Craft Grower Applicant must sign and notarize a statement that specifically provides he or she will not do certain things, and that the information contained in the craft grower application is true and correct.

S: Fingerprint Consent Form

The craft grower license applicant must complete the Fingerprint Submission Consent and Notification Form and submit it directly to a live scan vendor. This Form should not be included in the Application. Applicant should not alter the Requesting Agency Name, Requesting Agency ORI Identifier, Requesting Agency Address, or Purpose Code fields of the Form.

How to Become a Craft Grower in Illinois

We are going to be covering the applications that will enable up to 150 new entrants into the Illinois Cannabis cultivation market in the coming years.

To help people discover this information about how to get a craft growers license – smash the likes and subscribe.  Now let’s talk time lines and what goes into the application to get the license. This is a very long procedure – but if you stay until the end, then you will know the answer to the question “ can I have a craft grow, an infuser and a dispensary all in the same building if they are all their own separate and licensed entities??  Hmm…well, let’s get to it All about how to get your craft grow license.

How Many Craft Growers Licenses are issued in Illinois?

The department of Agriculture shall – that’s mandatory – issue up to 40 craft grower licenses by July 1, 2020, and they cannot sell that license until december 21, 2021.  Also by december 21, 2021, the department of agriculture shall issue up to another 60 craft grower licenses in Illinois. After January 1, 2022, the department of agriculture may raise the numbers of craft growers and change the licensing application – but cannot exceed 150 craft growers in the state.

A new license for startup cannabis cultivators in Illinois.

So let’s talk about what specifically must go into those license applications for the first 100 craft growers in Illinois.

Section 30-10 of the law covers the application.  Visit our webpage on cannabis industry lawyer for a link to download this section so you can have a copy of the requirements to help your cannabis company open up in Illinois.

The application includes:

  1. Non-refundable application fee of $5,000 – the license fee is $30,000 if your application is one of the lucky few selected.
  2. The legal name of the craft grower
  3. The proposed physical address of the craft grower
  4. The name, address, social security number, date of birth of each principal officer and board member of the craft grower – all of whom must be at least 21 years of age.
  5. Details of administrative or judicial (court) proceeding where anyone of the people from requirement 4 have pled guilty, or had a license revoked or suspended.
  6. Proposed copy of the bylaws including procedures for oversight of craft grower, including development and implementation of plant monitoring system, accurate record keeping, staffing plan, and security plan approved by the Department of State Police that comply with rules issues by department of Ag -coming for October 2019- A physical inventory shall be done of the plants on a weekly basis by the craft grower.

-see, this is why I was saying to people before that the costs will be high, many businesses just open, they do not prepackage all these governing docs BEFORE even getting the permission to open for business – so that’s why consultants will be charging tens if not hundreds of thousands of dollars to help your business get its license to grow in Illinois, so please ask those vendors if they have a fiduciary duty to your business – like your lawyer has.  Now back to all the requirements.

  1. Verification by State Police that all background checks of principal officers, board members, and agents of the cannabis business establishment have been conducted
  2. Copy of current local zoning orgindace or permit and verification that craft grower is compliant with local zoning rules
  3. Proposed employment practices – aka employee handbook – that demonstrates a plan of action to inform, hire and educate minorities, women, veterans and persons with disabilities, engage in fair labor practices and provide worker protections.
  4. Demonstrate experience in or business practices that promote economic empowerment in disproportionately impacted areas.
  5. Experience with cultivation of ag biz or horticultural operations
  6. Description of enclosed, locked facility where cannabis will be grown, harvested, manufactured, packaged, or otherwise prepped for distribution to dispensing organization.
  7. A survey of the enclosed, locked facility including the spaced for cultivation
  8. Cultivation, processing, inventory and packaging plans,
  9. A description of applicant’s experience with ag culvation tech and industry standards.
  10. List of degrees, certificates, or relevant experience of all prospective business officers, board members and gents of the related business
  11. Identity of everyone with a financial or voting interest of 5% or greater
  12. A plan describing how the grower will address each of the following:
    1. Energy needs – and adoptions of sustainable energy use
    2. Water news and sustainable water use or conservation policy
    3. Waste management and waste reduction policy
  13. A recycling plan for their purchaser packaging, any recyclable waste generated, or cannabis waste

Further – all cannabis waste will be made unusable grinding it up with other compostable waste to be disposed of.

What must a craft grower do to keep its license?

  1. Commitment to comply with local waste provisions – and stay compliant with all federal and state environmental requirements including – storing all organic waste with finished cannabis products, disposing of liquid waste containing cannabis.
  2. Commitment to technology standard for resource efficiency of the craft grower facility – meaning
    1. Craft grower commits to use resources efficiently – including power and water for cannabis cultivation & meets or exceeds tech requirements for
    2. Lighting
    3. HVAC
      1. Depends on size of canopy space what type of HVAC is used
    4. Filtration of water
      1. Includes automated watering system
      2. Measure the runoff of the water on system.
  3. Any other information required by rule.

See – pretty straight forward.  Long story short – the craft grow applications will take you a long time and that is why consultants will be there to sell you on how they do things and why it works, but before you do that – please look at how the applications will be scored.

Scoring a Craft Grow Applications

  1. We turn to Section 30-15 of the Craft Grower law to get how the points are scored. The points are not very well spelled out, but we can do the reverse of the math to guess at the 78% of points that are not directly explained.

    1. Suitability of the proposed facility
    2. Suitability of employee training plan
    3. Security and record keeping
    4. Cultivation plan
    5. Product safety and labeling plan
    6. Business plan
    7. Applicant’s status as social equity applicant – when that video is done – I’ll put that link right up there. – this is the first time numbers are provided, no less than 20% of available points go to this category – so at least 20% of the decision is this, ignore it at your peril if you want the license.
    8. Labor and employment practices – which will be no less than 2% to total points available – that is about 10x less perilous to ignore than social equity, but still have good employment practices,
    9. Environmental plan regarding your cultivation operations like the HVAC, H20, energy efficiency and technology plans.
    10. The craft grow is more than 51% owned by an Illinois resident
    11. The craft grow is more than 51% owned or controlled by a veteran
    12. A diversity plan that includes a narrative of not more than 2,500 words that sets your goal of diversity in ownership, management, employment and contracting
    13. Anything else the department of ag may set by rule for points
    14. 2 bonus points for applicant’s plan to engage with the community, but this is only awarded if applications for a particular region are tied.

    If you win – then any plans put into your craft grow applications becomes conditions of the license – failure to comply with your own policies and procedures will expose your craft grow to risk of loss of license – so you better mean what you say in your application.

Do you really want a craft growers license?

Whoa, I know – right?  This application is crazy long & if you win, then it becomes a condition of your license. But if you liked this and want more information, subscribe to the channel and give us a thumbs up on the content so more of it comes up in your feed.

Can a Craft Grow be Connected to a Dispensary in Illinois?

 According to page 215 of the law – a craft grower may share a premise with an infuser or dispensary – and have their licensees share common areas like locker rooms, lunch rooms, bathrooms.

So one day the craft grow may be a whole cannabis business from seed to sale – we’ll see.


Thanks for joining me on this episode – remember, marijuana legalization is only a few months away – so start putting your plans together for cultivation. And if you need my help, just google cannabis lawyer and get in touch with me.  Peace out y’all!

Thomas Howard has been in business for years and can help yours navigate towards more profitable waters.

Our cannabis business attorneys are also business owners.  We can help you structure your business or help protect it from overly burdensome regulations.

Want to win a license?

Here’s where you can learn how we’ve won before and will again.