Governor JB Pritzker recently announced three lotteries to distribute 185 licenses to operate adult-use cannabis dispensaries will be held in July and August. Additionally, over 200 people across the state have qualified to receive Craft Grow, Infuser, and Transporter licenses, the first set of licenses to be awarded under the Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act (CRTA).
Of those eligible to receive the licenses for craft grow, infuser and transportation, 67 percent identify as non-white and 100 percent are qualified social equity applicants.
The Governor also signed HB 1443, technical legislation that establishes additional avenues to include more eligible social equity applicants in the new cannabis industry. The announcements build on the administration’s efforts to provide Illinois residents from diverse backgrounds with equitable access to the newly established cannabis industry.
“Over the past century, the failed war on drugs has destroyed families, filled prisons with nonviolent offenders, and disproportionately disrupted Black and brown communities. Legalizing adult-use cannabis brought about an important change and this latest piece of legislation helps move us even closer to our goal of establishing a cannabis industry in Illinois that doesn’t shy away from the pain caused by the war on drugs, but instead centers equity and community reinvestment as the key to moving forward,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “I would like to thank Representative Ford and Leader Lightford for their partnership, unwavering commitment to serving the people of Illinois, and hard work on getting this legislation across the finish line.”
“Almost all states that have legalized cannabis have done so in a way that produced a multi-billion-dollar industry dominated by a handful of corporations and individuals that lack diversity. But Illinois is attempting to produce a cannabis industry that actually looks like Illinois,” said Toi Hutchinson, Senior Advisor on Cannabis Control. “What we’re attempting to accomplish is hard to do and takes time to accomplish, but we have an obligation to ensure that it gets as strong a start as possible. These upcoming dispensary license lotteries are a result of the administration’s continued commitment to working hand in hand with the General Assembly, community groups, and other stakeholders, to put equity first as we take these initial steps in building an inclusive industry.”
The Illinois State Lottery will conduct a total of three lotteries for adult-use dispensary license applicants this year. The lotteries will be held on:
- July 29th: the lottery for qualifying applicants who received who received a score of at least 85% of the 250 application points will be held for the 55 licenses in that category.
- August 5th: the lottery for social equity justice-involved applicants who received a score of at least 85% of the 250 application points and are located in a disproportionately impacted area or have an eligible conviction will be held for the 55 available licenses in that category.
- August 19th: the final lottery will be held for top scoring, tied applicants for the original 75 licenses outlined in the CRTA.
Lotteries for all cannabis-related licenses, as it is for all other lotteries, will be a completely blind process managed by the Illinois State Lottery. All draws will be automated via a computer program and the Lottery will run multiple quality assurance checks before delivering the final results of each lottery to IDFPR. The results of each lottery will be available by 5 p.m. on the day of the draws.
Under the CRTA, the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) is permitted to issue 75 conditional adult-use cannabis dispensary licenses. HB 1443, which was introduced by Representative LaShawn Ford and Leader Lightford and supported by the administration, expands opportunities by creating two new lotteries:
- A social equity justice-involved lottery for 55 additional licenses to be awarded to:
- those who have received a score of at least 85% on their application, or 213 out of a total of 250 possible points; and
- live in a disproportionately impacted area, has an eligible cannabis conviction, or has a family member with an eligible cannabis conviction;
- A lottery for an additional 55 licenses for applicants who had a score of at least 85% on their application. In total, 185 dispensary licenses will be determined through the lottery process.
“Today, we continue our march forward in the implementation of the most equitable cannabis program in the country,” said Mario Treto, Jr., Acting Secretary of the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation. “This announcement reflects the tireless work by the Pritzker Administration, lawmakers, and advocates to ensure the next generation of cannabis dispensary licensees are qualified applicants who reflect the diversity that truly makes this state great. We look forward to this undertaking and are ready to take these next steps.”
HB 1443 is effective immediately.
Craft Grow, Infuser and Transportation
In addition to dispensary licenses, the Illinois Department of Agriculture, which is responsible for the licensing process for craft grow, infuser, and transporter licenses, today issued notifications to applicants who are eligible to receive one of 213 total licenses: 40 craft grow, 32 infuser, and 141 transporter. Craft grow and infuser applicants have 10 business days to respond to the notification confirming their interest in receiving a license and to submit the required fee and documents. Transporter applicants have until February 2022 to confirm their interest in receiving a license.
These applicants will become public upon confirmation of their submission of the required documentation and fees.
“The Department is pleased to notify eligible applicants who will soon be joining the Illinois Adult Use Cannabis market,” saidIllinois Department of Agriculture Director, Jerry Costello. “I am proud that this new generation of licensed cannabis industry leaders in education, cultivation, manufacturing, and transportation is one of the most diverse and equity-focused in any adult-use legal state. I look forward to continuing to work with our licensees, our partners in the Legislature and at other state agencies, and the community to improve our process as we move forward together.”
Under state law, applicants for craft grow, infuser, and transporter licenses were not required to report demographic data such as race, gender, or age; however, 80% of applicants opted to self-report. Of the applicants who received a notification from IDOA that they are eligible for one of the 213 available licenses, 67% total reported being non-white. In regard to majority ownership, 98 applicants reported being Black owned, 19 Latinx, and 34 Black woman owned.
Community College Curricula
The Cannabis Community College Vocational Pilot Program grants eligible higher education institutions the ability to develop a curriculum to train a new generation of cannabis industry professionals and leaders. Under the CRTA, IDOA was restricted to issuing licenses for the program to a maximum of eight community colleges statewide. HB 1443 removes those restrictions and grants the department the ability to grant licenses to as many community colleges that are eligible.
Today, the administration announced the seven inaugural recipients of the license as well as plans to announce additional licenses soon. The community college license recipients are: Kishwaukee College, Oakton College, Olive-Harvey College, Shawnee Community College, Southwestern Illinois College, Triton College, and Wilbur Wright College.
This innovative program offers students a path to achieving a Career in Cannabis Certificate which includes the ability to work with, study, and grow live cannabis plants to prepare for a career in the legal cannabis industry and instruction in the legal compliance of the cannabis business industry, among other topics. The program is a vital part of the growing cannabis industry in Illinois and will provide a path to the thousands of new jobs being created right here in Illinois for community college graduates in communities around the state.
Social Equity Cannabis Loan Program
The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) has established the Social Equity Loan (SEL) program to provide financial assistance for social equity licensees, and to help increase access to capital for prospective social equity cannabis entrepreneurs over time.
The SEL program will provide flexible low interest loans to assist with the expenses of starting and operating a cannabis business establishment. Loan terms will be determined on a case-by-case basis, with a general repayment term of over five years. To be eligible for the loan, a cannabis business establishment must receive licensure and meet the qualifications of a social equity applicant. Funding will be prioritized for applicants demonstrating the greatest adverse impact from the failed war on drugs. Licensees offered conditional acceptance into the Loan Program will be referred to lender partners for a full review of the loan application for funding consideration.
“Under Governor Pritzker’s leadership, Illinois is working to help communities disproportionately impacted by the war on drugs compete in the newly regulated cannabis market by providing technical assistance and helping cannabis entrepreneurs access capital,” said DCEO Acting Director Sylvia Garcia. “Through the cannabis social equity loan program, DCEO is working with lending partners to bring both state and private dollars to the table and maximize the impact of our cannabis social equity fund for the communities that need it most.”
To administer the loan program, DCEO is partnering with two lenders, Good Tree Capital and Credit Union 1, who will work alongside the state to provide low-interest loan agreements for qualifying SEA applicants. Loans may be made available up to the following amounts:
- Transporter: $100,000
- Adult-Use Dispensing Organization: $500,000
- Infuser: $500,000
- Cultivator: $1,000,000
Through its partnership with lending partners, the State anticipates up to $34 million in loans could be made available in the first year, and the State will work with partners to enhance the loan program to ensure that it is a sustainable source of financial support for the social equity community.
DCEO has launched an application intake portal allowing social equity awardees to submit to the loan program. Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis. The intake application is the first step in the loan approval process. Approved applicants will be referred to the participating lenders for loan underwriting. The intake form can be found online here.
Additionally, DCEO will provide technical assistance for social equity applicants to navigate the loan program and other statutory requirements associated with cannabis licensure in Illinois. More information on rules and eligibility for the loan program can be found on DCEO’s website.
“Government must be responsive to the voice of the people and HB1443 is a collaborative effort between public and private groups in responsive to the voices of the people, and HB1443 is a collaborative effort between public and private groups in response to concerns about Illinois’ cannabis law. I am grateful to social equity applicants for their willingness to work to help fix the law to help achieve the intent of Illinois’ cannabis law,” said State Representative LaShawn Ford (D-Chicago). “I hope that equity in the cannabis industry is a reality soon in Illinois. We are all anxiously awaiting a new diverse industry that includes people that have been locked up for cannabis-related issues and who have been locked out of a billion-dollar emerging industry. I applaud Governor Pritzker for signing this legislation and for his promise to ensure that the new cannabis industry includes Black and Brown people in Illinois.”
“The signing of HB1443 moves us closer to making the promise of equity in cannabis a reality in a state where the entire existing industry is overwhelmingly white. I was proud to partner with State Representative LaShawn Ford in passing HB1443 which is the result of dozens of meetings with stakeholders and applicants who demanded that their voices be heard,” said State Senator Kimberly Lightford (D-Maywood). “This industry has the potential to change lives, but only if we keep the principles of equity at the center of every decision we make.”
“From the very beginning, we sought to create the most diverse and equitable cannabis industry in the world, knowing that we had no bread crumbs to follow or examples of any state that had figured it out. The announcement of these demographics for the craft grow, infuser, and transportation licenses are proof that what we can accomplish is only limited by how hard we are willing to work,” said Speaker Pro Tempore Jehan Gordon-Booth (D-Peoria). “We all know that the existing industry does not include people who look like me. Today that changes. I couldn’t be more proud. Our next steps are to make sure that not only do we have new entrants, but we continue to create the conditions that will allow them to grow and compete.”
“I’m proud of the work the Latino and Black Caucuses did to ensure social equity within the cannabis industry through the changes in HB1443,” said State Senator Celina Villanueva (D-Chicago). “I hope this move brings the needed diversity to the industry so that we can begin to correct the decades of harm done to our communities through the war on drugs.”
In addition to expanding access to dispensary licenses, HB 1443 expands access for medical cannabis users by removing restrictions on where medical card holders can buy medicine. The legislation also adds eight additional community members to the Restore, Reinvest, Renew (R3) Board, and gives early approval adult use dispensaries the ability to relocate within the same medical district 90 days after the legislation is signed, among other provisions.
For more information on craft grow, infuser, and transporter licenses, go to the Illinois Department of Agriculture website. For more information about conditional adult-use cannabis dispensary licenses and the upcoming lotteries, go to the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation website.