A year after Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed an executive order delaying the submission date for new cannabis license applications, there have been no new licenses issued.
Three bills have been introduced in the state Legislature to correct a scoring problem that shut out qualified cannabis entrepreneurs, many who are social equity applicants, from securing a spot in the lottery for a dispensary. And all three failed miserably.
Rep. La Shawn Ford hopes the fourth bill is a charm. He’s introducing a compromise measure that was crafted with equity applicants and the governor’s office. “I’m looking forward to the final language that the General Assembly can pass and the governor signs to have Black and brown people included in this industry,” he told Playbook.
Ford’s draft legislation would create two lottery drawings to dole out 110 licenses to sell recreational weed. The bill also calls for a separate lottery to add five licenses to sell medical marijuana.
To move forward with any lottery, the state is required to fix the scoring process and create an additional competition that would address lawsuits filed because of the flawed scoring in the first lottery.
After previously slamming Gov. J.B. Pritzker over the marred licensing rollout, Hendon praised him on Monday for halting the process after outrage and legal action followed the state’s announcement that just 21 of the more than 900 applicant groups had qualified. Hendon said the governor ultimately told Black cannabis applicants to “unify and come to us with a solution.”
In a statement Tuesday, Pritzker’s office expressed support for the bill.
“We welcome the legislation proposed by Rep. Ford in coordination with community stakeholders that aims to address acknowledged shortcomings in the Act,” said spokeswoman Charity Greene. “Holding an additional lottery for conditional adult-use dispensary licenses will not only provide a path to participation in the industry for Illinoisans from all backgrounds but also provide high-scoring applicants from the first round an opportunity to gain a license.”
Ford said he intends to file the new language soon by adding to a “shell bill” that was introduced shortly after Ford’s push to create 75 additional dispensary licenses fell short during the lame duck session in January.
* Meanwhile, from the Tribune…
Among some 300 cannabis-related bills introduced in Springfield, most of which are unlikely to pass, a few stand out.
One proposal provides that a county or municipality may allow the sale and consumption of cannabis at temporary events, clubs, and tours of cultivation centers.
Another bill would transfer cannabis business licensing and oversight from existing state regulators to a new Cannabis Control Commission to be appointed by the governor.
Yet another would require schools to teach the medical and legal ramifications of cannabis use, similar to warnings about alcohol and drug use.
And one measure provides that no one may knowingly allow an animal to ingest cannabis, including secondhand smoke, in a way that results in the animal’s sickness or death.
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