Illinois legislators are considering adding more cannabis shop licenses to the state.
This new plan, if approved, could as much as double the number of shops that exist so far. There is currently some stagnation in the process, as the lottery system to determine who the next 75 licenses will be given to has been delayed by lawsuits claiming the system wasn’t fair.
Currently, Illinois is awaiting a ruling on whether or not cannabis officials will allow the state to move forward with allowing losing cannabis shop applicants the chance to once again be considered, due to aspects of the original lottery the shops are speaking out against.
This new legislation, backed by State Rep. La Shawn Ford, D-Chicago, would up the number of 75 potential new licenses to 150 total. Those cut from the lottery the first time around would be included back into the running. The idea behind this change is to get rid of some of the issues that resulted in lawsuits.
The goal currently is to make sure social equity applicants are prioritized in a fair and just way for the entire industry. The Illinois cannabis industry is still overwhelmingly white, with very few minority business owners.
“I can truly say that the governor’s office really wants to see this problem go away so that we can get more social equity applicants [involved] because that’s what the law was intended to produce,” said Ford.
This legislation is backed by other Democrats in Chicago as well. State Rep. Kelly Cassidy is a member of the cannabis working group in Chicago, and claims that these discussions on the cannabis industry need to be agreed upon before work can move forward.”
“There’s, I think, consensus that we need to get more licenses out. But the how, I think, is the challenge,” said Cassidy, a key sponsor of the law that legalized recreational cannabis.
Currently, there is no clear agreement on how many licenses could be created, as some are still concerned about having too many cannabis businesses within the state. Still, discussions are moving forward about how best to handle the licensing issues within the city.
“I think it’s very premature to talk about what’s going to be in it because I think we’re still talking concepts, not language,” she said regarding new regulations.
She also pointed out that legislation has an impact on everything around it, so that this is not a simple answer for the industry to find. She compared the issue to a bowl of jello.
“You poke it on the left, it’s going to wiggle on the right,” she said. “You always have to think about what that wiggle’s going to do.”
However, while everyone is eager to see a positive change in Illinois, and to see more businesses pop up, there may be more time to wait, as the upcoming veto session has been cancelled, and lawmakers will now have to wait until the lame-duck session this January to make progress.
It may still be some time coming, but it’s likely that rules in Illinois will allow for more space for cannabis businesses, especially businesses owned by minority entrepreneurs.