Approved Illinois Cannabis Applicant Was Employed by Application-Scoring Firm

A partner at one of the 21 companies chosen for Illinois’ upcoming cannabis license lottery is also an employee for the firm who graded the state’s cannabis license applications.

Full story after the jump.

A partner at one of the 21 companies that secured a spot for Illinois’ upcoming cannabis license lottery is an employee of the company that received a no-bid contract to grade applications for the licensing round, the Chicago Sun-Times reports.

Hamd Kamal works as a risk management consultant for KPMG and is listed as a manager for EHR Holdings LLC. According to the report, the principal address for EHR is a head shop also run by Kamal.

KPMG was awarded a $4.2 million contract through the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation. EHR earned perfect scores on its applications – like the other 20 approved companies.

KPMG spokesman James McGann confirmed Kamal’s employment status with the firm to the Sun-Times but said “he was not part of the engagement team that scored the applications.”

“The scoring process was objective, following the state’s criteria, with a blind scoring methodology. The team scoring the applications would have no knowledge of the names or affiliations of applicants. A separate team scored certain aspects of the application, such as social equity.” – McGann to the Sun-Times

EHR spokesman Eric Kowalczyk defended any possible link, saying that the company only learned of any association between it and KPMG “two days ago.” However, Jordan Abudayyeh, a spokeswoman for Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) said that KPMG “had a plan in place to ensure that any potential conflicts of interest were addressed and did not influence the process.”

“They are a large international firm with experience ensuring there aren’t conflicts of interest,” she said in the report.

KPMG holds another $2.5 million no-bid contract by the state Department of Agriculture to grade applications for cultivation, transport, and cannabis infusion licenses.

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