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Illinois issues 149 retail cannabis licenses

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Illinois Governor JB Pritzker announced Friday that the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) has issued 149 conditional licenses for retailers to use cannabis for adults to applicants selected in three lotteries held earlier this summer. All selected companies qualify as social justice applicants under the state Cannabis Tax and Regulation Act, the 2019 bill that passed the recreational pot for adults statewide.

“Illinois is leading the way in tackling the war on drugs like no state has done before, and dispensary ownership that reflects our state’s diversity is the product of that commitment,” Pritzker said On Friday, in a statement from the governor’s office. These licenses represent an important step toward accountability for the decades of injustice that preceded the legalization of cannabis. Illinois will continue to deliver on its promises to put equity at the forefront of this process.”

Retail sales in Illinois started two years ago

The Illinois Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act was the first measure to legalize adult use of cannabis in the United States to be passed by the state legislature, rather than through a voter-approved ballot initiative. Sales of cannabis for adults in established medical dispensaries began in 2020.

But retailers’ licensing of adult cannabis use has been marked by setbacks and legal challenges to the state’s system for licensing recreational cannabis businesses. Much of the controversy has centered on state efforts to ensure that members of communities negatively affected by prohibition and enforcement policies have a pathway to business ownership in the legal adult cannabis industry. The first 75 licenses were originally scheduled to be granted in May 2020, but lawsuits have delayed progress several times.

“Since 2019, we have worked hard to ensure that communities disproportionately affected by cannabis bans and discriminatory law enforcement are included in the adult cannabis industry,” Senate Majority Leader Kimberly Lightford said. “With 149 regulated licenses issued for conditional adult use, Illinois has become a leader in minority cannabis ownership and will continue to advance social equity, social justice and inclusion in the marketplace.”

Among the conditional use license holders selected through the lottery process, 41% are majority-owned black, 7% are white-owned, and 4% are Hispanic, while 38% of awardees do not disclose the ethnicity of their owners. State officials noted that “Illinois has made and implemented the largest adult cannabis tax revenue commitment to community reinvestment, expunged the most criminal history records involving cannabis, and has the highest minority ownership rate of any state reporting/collecting ownership demographic data in the country.”

Licensees have six months to obtain final approval

Applicants now have 180 days to secure their business location and obtain final approval for licensing from state regulators. If conditional licensees are unable to secure a suitable job site during that time, they are allowed to submit a 180-day extension request to complete the process.

said Mario Treto, Jr., secretary of the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation. “These licensees continue to lay the foundation for a more diverse and equitable cannabis industry than any other in the country. I am extremely proud of our team for their work over the past two years and look forward to working with these new companies. [sic] owners through the following stages of licensing.

Many business owners who are selected as licensees of an adult use retailer are likely to face challenges in obtaining capital to secure a location, operation, and operation. Through a separate program operated by the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO), the state provides low-interest loans to eligible licensed businesses through the Cannabis Social Equality Loan Program.

The first round of social equity licensing applicants’ round of direct loan agreements with DCEO’s participating lenders is expected to conclude in the coming weeks, with the next phase of the loan program launching in the near future. Additional information about the Cannabis Social Equity Loan Program is available Online. DCEO also funds free licensing and post-licensing technical assistance through its partners at Oakton Community College, The Tryp School, the Women’s Business Development Center, and the University of Illinois School of Law at Chicago. Additional information about these resources and how to access them can be found at Program website.

One of the conditional shortlisted applicants, Achille Parnell, a co-owner of Maregro, plans to open a dispensary in Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood. The company has already raised the necessary capital and is ready to move to the next step in the process.

We have our financing. Parnell said Crane Chicago. “Now we have to go through the re-zoning.”

“It has been a wait. It is a relief now to have the license on hand,” Parnell added. “There is a lot of work to come.”

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