Illinois Lawsuit Prevents New Social Equity Licensees from Starting Operations

An Illinois lawsuit is preventing 118 new cannabis licensees, at least half of which are majority-owned by non-white applicants, from beginning operations.

Full story after the jump.

At least half of Illinois’ 118 new cannabis industry licenses have gone to companies majority-owned by non-white applicants, the Chicago Tribune reports. Danielle Perry told the Tribune that now 43% of the state’s licensed companies are Black-owned, 10% are Latino-owned, 9% are owned by coalitions of people of color, and 4% by Asians.

The new ownership figures are in contrast with those from the program’s launch when none of the state’s cannabis businesses were majority-owned by a person of color. However, the newly-licensed firms have yet to open their business and Douglas Kelly, executive director of the Cannabis Equity Coalition Illinois, said that a court case challenging the most recent licensing round has forced many of those businesses to lose money while the case makes its way through court.

“If it takes another six months to a year, you might as well tear up those (diversity) numbers.” Kelly to the Tribune

Portia Mittons, a dispensary license applicant and co-chair of the Minority Access Committee of the Cannabis Business Association of Illinois, told the Tribune that while “all the good intentions are great … until we can actually open, it’s not helping us.”

Nic Easley, CEO and founder of Denver, Colorado-based 3C Comprehensive Cannabis Consulting, told the Tribune that Illinois’ scoring program is the worst he’s ever dealt with, saying the scoring system was complex, inconsistent, and secret, and that the bonus points only allowed military veteran-owned companies to receive dispensary licenses.

Illinois contracted KPMG to score industry applications.

“It was just chaos,” Easley told the Tribune. “The whole system’s broken.”

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