2704 Harlem Ave., Riverside, looking south (Bob Uphues/Editor)

It may still take months to come to fruition, but a federal judge’s ruling on June 9 lifting a stay on 185 conditional adult-use cannabis dispensary licenses in Illinois may finally set in motion a plan to bring just such a dispensary to Riverside.

Mint Cannabis was awarded one of the conditional licenses during a series of lotteries in 2021 and the company initially was slated to close on the property at 2704 Harlem Ave. in early February.

The deal was made public last November because the sale of 2704 Harlem Ave. to Mint Cannabis was also contingent on the village selling the property immediately to the south, at 2710 Harlem Ave., to Dr. Milad Nourahmadi, a dentist who owns both 2704 Harlem Ave. and the strip mall at 2720 Harlem Ave.

Nourahmadi intends to convert the village-owned property into a parking lot that could serve customers of both the strip mall and the cannabis dispensary. But, the deals have been stalled for months as the state has withheld the conditional dispensary licenses due to litigation related to the 2021 lotteries.

On June 16, the Riverside Village Board voted 5-0 to amend its sales agreement with Nourahmadi on the 2710 Harlem Ave. property, extending it until Sept. 30, because Mint Cannabis still had not received its conditional dispensary license, on which the entire deal is contingent.

“Everybody is on hold,” said Nourahmadi in a phone interview last week. “From our standpoint, if it doesn’t happen by the end of September, it’s pretty much going to be dead.”

Omar Fakhouri, managing director of Mint Cannabis, said he believes the state will begin expediting the issuance of the licenses in light of two recent court rulings.

In May, the Circuit Court of Cook County lifted stays on all 185 conditional dispensary licenses, with the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation announcing three “corrective” lotteries, which were slated to be held last week.

On June 9, a U.S. District Court judge dismissed a lawsuit filed in March that alleged the 2021 lottery process was unconstitutional because it discriminated against out-of-state applicants.

That ruling lifted a temporary restraining order that had prevented the IDFPR from issuing any of the 185 conditional licenses awarded in 2021. The plaintiffs have appealed that ruling.

“It was a big step for the judge to rule [against the plaintiffs],” Fakhouri said in an interview last week. “Now it’s on the IDFPR to get things in motion and start releasing the licenses … Hopefully, this success will make it able for us to move forward on something.”

Fakhouri said he believes the deal will eventually go through, but he didn’t know how long it would take for the state to complete its process.

“We’re super excited to open at that location,” Fakhouri said. “I think we’re in a much better position now after that [June 9] ruling.”