Cannabis Social Equity Licensing Roll Out Begins On Dec. 10

By Benjamin Cox on December 6, 2019 at 10:31am

Areas of the map highlight zones in the state eligible to apply for Social Equity licenses for the Recreational Cannabis Program. Several small sections of West Central Illinois fall into these zones.

Governor J.B. Pritzker announced the next phase of the legalized cannabis roll out in the State of Illinois after signing trailer legislation at Cabrini Green Legal Aid in Chicago. Pritzker says Illinois’ cannabis program will be unique. “Eleven states have legalized recreational cannabis. They have made progress in their own ways, but no other state has done the important that we’re doing here in Illinois, where equity intentionally takes center stage. Next week, we will launch the next phase of this roll out. It’s in this coming phase, one of the most important ones, that Illinois will demonstrate its unique commitment to equity.”

Pritzker says the next phase will come on December 10th. Applicants will have until January 2nd to submit proposals for recreational cannabis dispensaries at 75 locations. Pritzker says that because equity is the central focus, Illinois will see better results.

Pritzker went on to describe the Social Equity Program: “The Social Equity Program licenses will be able to get business loans funded by the existing industry. This is the most innovative approach in the nation. It stands at the core of our objective to deliver long-term, sustainable equity at every level of the cannabis market, whether you’re a business owner, a craft grower, or a bud tender working at a good job that will support a family. Let me be clear. Our goal is not to immediately deliver as much access to recreational cannabis as possible, as quickly as possible. What we’re doing here is methodically working to address the inequities that have wreaked havoc on many of our communities.”

As WLDS reported earlier in the fall when the Social Equity Map was released, northeastern portions of Jacksonville, the City of Roodhouse, northeastern portions of Springfield, and southern Greene and all of Jerseyville fall under the social equity program for legalized cannabis.

Pritzker says the eventual market will be a reflection of the state’s population. “Illinois will have a brief start-up period from January until May to provide the seed capital to social equity applicants. That’s why we will open up dispensaries opened up by far more social equity applicants in May. That’s why we will initiate a disparity study to determine if we have achieved the results we wanted so that our market is mature and thriving. Illinois will be the first state where the legal cannabis market looks more like the residents of our state.”

Pritzker says the next phase will make the cannabis industry more diverse. Toi Hutchison, a former State Senator has been named senior adviser to the governor for cannabis control to oversee the program. The original bill creates the Restore, Reinvest and Renew program, which aims to “address the impact of economic disinvestment, violence, and the historical overuse of the criminal justice system,” according to the governor’s office. Hutchison told the crowd yesterday that the bill is not intended to be a money grab but was created to be equitable for new business entrepreneurs and citizens in the cannabis industry and to look different than any other cannabis industry in the country.