A cannabis industry social equity licensing bill on Wednesday passed the Illinois House and would add 110 new industry licenses through two lotteries that would prioritize applicants from communities most impacted by the War on Drugs, the Chicago Defender reports. As part of the qualifying criteria, one of the lotteries would give preference to individuals previously arrested or convicted of cannabis-related crimes.
State Rep. La Shawn K. Ford (D), told the Defender that the state’s licensing rollout was “like the War on Drugs,” having “disproportionately impacted communities of color.”
“We now have an opportunity to correct the missteps of the original lottery process by refocusing on the intent of the legalization bill. Instead of allowing the wealthy few to maintain control of this new industry, let’s give people in areas that have been left behind a real opportunity to start a local business that is owned and operated by members of the community.” – Ford to the Defender
The new licenses would be in addition to 75 previously approved licenses that were set to be awarded last year, but have been delayed due to lawsuits and issues with the scoring system, the report says.
“As expected, the cannabis industry has been and will continue to be very lucrative,” Ford said in the report. “It’s important as we continue to distribute licenses that we keep track of ownership data and ensure nobody is left behind. I’m hopeful that this proposal will put us on a more equitable path this year.”
A report last year found that none of the state’s cannabusinesses were majority-owned by a person of color.
The proposal moves next to the Senate.
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