Illinois Passes Measure to Allow for Social Equity in the Cannabis Marketplace


Illinois is among many states with legalized recreational cannabis, and the state has recently taken steps to allow for more equal opportunity in the marketplace.

The Illinois Senate passed a measure that would essentially create a lottery system for those who haven’t been able to secure a license. Studies have suggested that minority communities have been most disproportionately targeted and affected by the “War on Drugs” – for this reason, the social equity program would help address some of the affects of marijuana drug laws.

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.

While licenses based on social equity have been in the works since April, the pandemic has slowed actual rollout of the program. State Senator Cristina Castro (D) told the (Chicago) 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.[1]

The measure now heads to the House where it is expected to pass. The state also announced $31 million from taxes on Cannabis for its Restore, Reinvest and Renew program, a program to help disadvantaged communities.

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