Illinois has been making major headlines in the cannabis sector, as some groups cry out that the plans for granting new business licenses are not inclusive enough of minorities, and that the lottery system for choosing new businesses license holders is unfair. 

Now, after analyzing the current systems that are in place, the state has announced they will be taking even more steps to insure equity.

The new proposed steps, approved by Governor JB Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation, will make sure that applicants who were initially left out will receive extra deficiency notice and a score sheet to explain exactly why they got low scores when they applied for licenses. They can then reach out with a response amending their application and asking for a rescore if they believe there was some kind of error. They will also be able to submit extra information to clarify anything that was unclear, or keep their initial score. 

All these responses will then be reviewed again, and it will be determined whether or not any new licenses will be granted via a new lottery for conditional licenses. There will be detailed instructions that let applicants know about any deadlines or stipulations so that no one will be caught off-guard. 

“As we worked with the General Assembly, equity and fairness have always been at the heart of our approach to legalizing cannabis, and when we heard significant concerns from numerous stakeholders about the process to award dispensary licenses, I said we needed to take a pause to fix their concerns, within the bounds of our landmark law,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “While this process remains a marathon and not a sprint, we believe that these new steps will inject more equity and fairness in the first round of license awards and provide insight as we improve the process for future rounds.”

Equity Across The Board

This process will make sure that the Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act is fairly being implemented, and that equity is taking place across the board in the Illinois cannabis industry. There will be certain rules in place; for example, owners and ownership percentages must be the same as on the original applications to ensure social equity status or veteran ownership status. This makes sure that no one changes ownership simply to qualify for equity inclusion. 

In addition to this, Illinois will be conducting a disparity study to learn what can be done differently next time, as well as offering lower application fees, low-interest loans, and informational workshops so that applicants can learn more about applying. 

So far, applicants have already provided some feedback to the process, including making sure all applicants who meet or exceed a certain score are automatically moved on to the lottery stage. There will also be a limit to how many applications one controlling entity can submit. 

These changes towards a more equitable process make Illinois groundbreaking when it comes to including all those who want a seat at the table and a chance at a license.