The new batch of recreational-marijuana dispensary licenses in Illinois that was supposed to be awarded by Friday, May 1 will not be approved after all. The state has postponed the allocation of as many as 75 new permits, due to delays related to the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus outbreak.

The postponement follows a modified "stay-at-home" order for the state's residents that comes into force on Friday.

The delay will be enshrined in an executive order signed by Governor J.B. Pritzker, according to a statement released by the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR).

Generic marijuana dispensary sign.

Image source: Getty Images.

"The requirement will be suspended for the duration of the ongoing Gubernatorial Disaster Proclamations, or until IDFPR otherwise announces a new date. IDFPR will provide a public notice announcing the new date when licenses will be issued and will seek to do so as soon as feasible," IDFPR wrote in the statement. It did not speculate as to where the reset date might land.

Under the Proclamations, many businesses have been temporarily closed, although dispensaries have been classified as "essential businesses."

News of the licensing postponement will come as a heavy disappointment to potential recreational-dispensary operators. More than 700 applications have been filed for the new licenses.

The delay will likely benefit existing dispensary operators, at least to some degree, given the current constraints on their businesses. Two Illinois-headquartered cannabis companies that have built up relatively wide dispensary networks in their home state are Green Thumb Industries (OTC:GTBIF) and Cresco Labs (OTC:CRLBF). Neither Green Thumb nor Cresco has publicly commented on the licensing postponement.

On Thursday, both stocks slumped more or less in line with the declines recorded by the wider equities market. Green Thumb fell nearly 1% on the day, while Cresco dipped by 1.1%.

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