The High Price of Opening Medical Marijuana Dispensaries in Illinois

medical marijuana

Medical marijuana dispensaries will be opening in Illinois as early as this fall. It is expected that 56 dispensaries will open across the state.

According to a July 3 article by Phil Arvia and Mike Nolan that appeared in the Chicago Tribune, there are about 2,600 Illinois residents that are registered to use medical marijuana. Steve Weisman, an Illinois medical marijuana dispensary owner, said he expects the number of registered residents to increase once all of the dispensaries actually open.

The exact date for the dispensaries to open is up in the air because they have to wait to receive marijuana from the growers. Several indoor cultivation centers said they may have plants by September. Weisman said his dispensaries can’t conduct any business operations or set prices until they know when they will be receiving product and what the wholesale prices from growers will be.

There are 37 medical conditions, including cancer and spinal cord injuries, that make Illinois patients eligible to purchase medical marijuana. Patients will be allowed to purchase 2.5 ounces of marijuana every 14 days.

If you are interested in owning a dispensary in Illinois, it may not be as easy as you think. The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation has already issued the 56 available licenses. Prospective dispensary owners could wait for the next round of licenses, but the application process won’t be cheap. According to the Chicago Tribune article, at this point in the licensing process, applicants like Weisman have already paid $35,000 in fees to the state and will have to pay $25,000 annually in renewal fees. Additionally, each owner must provide a $50,000 surety bond to ensure their dispensary will operate in accordance with state regulations.

The main purpose of this medical marijuana surety bond is to guarantee that the dispensary owner pays all required taxes to the government. The Illinois bonds function similarly to the ones in Colorado. The only major difference being the difference in bond amount (roughly $50,000 in Illinois compared to about $5,000 in Colorado), which translates to differences in actual money paid on bond premiums.

UPDATE: As of August 10, 2015, no longer issues marijuana license bonds as a result of federal racketeering lawsuits filed against several marijuana retailers and their business associates.

Photo courtesy of Carlos Gracia (CC BY)

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About the Author

Jon Gottschalk
Jon Gottschalk is the Senior Marketing Director for and regularly blogs at the Surety Bond Insider to keep consumers informed on new legislation and updates in the commercial surety industry. He is also a licensed property & casualty insurance producer in Missouri.