Illinois Bill Would Prevent Former Regulators from Entering Cannabis Industry

An Illinois proposal seeks to block former cannabis regulators and their family members from working and investing in the state’s licensed cannabis industry.

Full story after the jump.

A bill introduced in Illinois would prevent former cannabis regulators and their family members from accepting employment from licensed operators or passively investing in the firms, the Chicago Sun-Times reports. Under the current law, individuals with regulatory ties and their family members are barred from applying for or holding industry licenses and from having an interest in a licensee unless it’s a passive investment in a publicly traded company.

According to the report, at least five former state cannabis regulators have roles or passive investments with a licensed cannabis company along with one state lawmaker and the spouse of another.

Candace Gingrich, the spouse of Democratic state Rep. Kelly Cassidy, was named as vice president of business development for Revolution Florida, a “sister company” Revolution Global, a month after cannabis was legalized in Illinois. Since 2017, Cassidy has received at least $15,550 in campaign contributions from individuals and entities tied to the state’s cannabis industry, the report says, including $4,000 from Revolution and its former chief executive.

State Rep. Bob Morgan, also a Democrat, is now a partner at Benesch, a law firm with a cannabis practice, where he represents Michigan-based cannabis cultivator Red Arrow. Morgan was the state’s first medical cannabis program coordinator and supported statewide legalization following his election in 2019. According to the report, he’s received $57,250 in campaign contributions from cannabis-linked donors, with about $34,350 coming from companies he represented or individuals affiliated with them.

“Although Representative Moylan’s idea builds off the existing cannabis industry ethics laws, I would broaden this approach to any matter before the general assembly, institute a revolving door ban for lawmakers, mandate personal financial disclosures of assets and liabilities modeled after federal rules, and create severe criminal penalties for lawmakers for breaching them.” – Morgan to the Sun-Times

The Secretary of State’s Office is also investigating state Sen. Patricia Van Pelt (D) for holding cannabis-related seminars and heading a company that intended to obtain industry licenses.

The measure would not affect the five former regulators now with links to the industry or seeking licenses, which include:

  • Former director of the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) Jay Stewart, who is now a consultant with Green Renaissance Illinois.
  • Cook County Commissioner and former Deputy Director of medical cannabis program Bridget Degnen, who has collected at least $14,700 in campaign contributions from the cannabis industry and joined AmeriCanna Dream.
  • Tara Meyer, who served on the IDFPR from 2017 to 2018 who is now partnered with Americanna Dream.
  • Former medical cannabis program Director Joseph Wright, who has since started a cannabis consultancy service and a cannabis company in Canada called NuSierra.
  • Jeff Cox, who served as Illinois Department of Agriculture’s chief cannabis regulator from 2016 until last June, who is circumventing the current law by offering consulting services to out-of-state cannabis firms.

Moylan called the bill “phase one of multi-pronged legislation” to shine a light on former officials who profit from the industry.

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