Illinois is sitting on $62 million in cannabis revenue earmarked for minority businesses and improvements to the neighborhoods most harmed by poverty and violence, the Chicago Tribune reports. Officials say the delay in awarding the funds is due to problems with the state system to award new cannabusiness licenses and an outsized request for funding.
The funds are directed to be divided between the Cannabis Business Development Fund and the Restore, Reinvest, and Renew Program (R3). Half of the money sent to the fund comes from fees paid by existing cannabis businesses.
State Sen. Heather Steans (D), co-sponsor of the legalization law, told the Tribune that she hopes the funding is disbursed “as soon as possible.”
“We did a lot to make this the most equitable cannabis system in the country. … We haven’t seen the results yet we wanted in any of those areas, so we obviously need to stay on it.” – Steans to the Tribune
Despite having legalized cannabis more than a year ago, none of the state’s licensed cannabis businesses are majority-owned by a person of color.
The Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority began accepting applications for the R3 program last May. It said it usually received less than 100 applications for the program, but this round the agency received about 400, the most ever.
Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority Spokeswoman Yolanda Joe explained in an email to the Tribune that reviewing the applications “takes time to be thorough and to give each and every application the considerable care it deserves, particular through an equity lens – and that is what we are doing.”
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