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More than 700 applicants applied for the 75 licenses. Many of those seeking the dispensary licenses are social equity applicants. To qualify as a social equity applicant, a person must either have a marijuana-related arrest on their record, live in an area disproportionately hit by the war on drugs, or meet another qualifier.

Toi Hutchinson, senior adviser to the governor on cannabis control, said the Pritzker administration is still committed to creating a marijuana industry “that reflects the diversity of Illinois residents.”

“We recognize that countless entrepreneurs were looking forward to May 1 and the next step it represented for Illinois’ adult use cannabis industry,” she said in a statement. “However, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has caused delays in the application review process. This executive order will help ensure that we continue to build out this industry in a deliberate and equity-centric manner.”

In all, about 50 dispensaries already are selling recreational marijuana in the state, though the coronavirus pandemic has forced some of them to change how they operate.

Some have halted recreational sales in an effort to enforce social distancing in their stores. Others have implemented online ordering systems, and will take products out to medical patients’ cars. Plans to open new dispensaries have also been put on hold.

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