Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) has indefinitely pushed back the date for awarding the state’s social-equity cannabis licenses amid the coronavirus pandemic, the Chicago Sun-Times reports. The approvals were expected on Friday, but the governor plans to sign an executive order delaying the licenses until his coronavirus-related disaster order is lifted or the state Department of Financial and Professional Regulation sets a new date.
Toi Hutchinson, Pritzker’s senior adviser for cannabis control, told the Sun-Times that the administration “remains committed to creating a legal cannabis 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. 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.” – Hutchinson to the Sun-Times
According to the Financial and Professional Regulation Department, more than 600 of about 700 applicants for dispensary licenses qualified for extra points on their applications by meeting the state’s social equity criteria: living in an area adversely affected by the War on Drugs, having a cannabis-related criminal record, or having a family member that meets the criteria, the report says.
Dan Pettigrew, who runs Viola Brands, which he started with former National Basketball Association player Al Harrington, said that dispensaries – which are considered essential businesses during the state’s coronavirus shutdown – are “killing it with limited competition” and that the current operators are all majority-owned by white people.
“They’re getting a huge advantage,” Pettigrew said to the Sun-Times. “That situation has nothing to do with coronavirus.”