Illinois Senate Approves Bill to Improve Cannabis Social-Equity Licensing

Ilinois state senators have advanced a measure aimed at improving the state’s social equity cannabis licensing process.

Full story after the jump.

The Illinois Senate on Wednesday advanced a measure to improve the state’s social equity cannabis licensing process, the Chicago Sun-Times reports. The approval comes just over a year after adult-use sales launched in the state with regulators yet to issue a single license to a firm majority-owned by a person of color.

The proposal would create two licensing lottery systems – tiered and qualified – to decide who might receive a dispensary license. The bill would also create a new lottery for 75 additional adult-use dispensary licenses for those who scored high in the first round of licensing but didn’t receive one of the first 75 licenses.

State Sen. Cristina Castro (D) told the Sun-Times that the “main goal…is to get more licenses out the door and into the hands of socially equitable applicants.”

“This plan adds more validity to Illinois’ already strong claim to being the industry leader in cannabis legalization that other states can seek to model their programs after.” – Castro to the Sun-Times

In April, Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) pushed back the date for awarding the state’s social-equity cannabis licenses amid the coronavirus pandemic. In June, officials indicated that the licenses could be awarded in July but they have yet to materialize.

The state has announced that $31 million from cannabis-derived taxes would be used for its Restore, Reinvest and Renew Program, a grant program aimed at small businesses and non-profits in disadvantaged communities.

The measure to improve the social equity licensing regime next moves to the House for a concurrence vote.

The Senate also approved criminal justice legislation that would end cash bail and require the use of body cameras statewide by 2025.

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