Illinois Lawmaker Renews Push to Create New Cannabis Retail Licenses

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Illinois Rep. La Shawn Ford (D-Chicago) is renewing a push to create new cannabis retail licenses in the wake of a controversial licensing process aimed at issuing 75 dispensary licenses in the state, according to The Chicago Sun-Times.

Ford introduced legislation Feb. 3 that would create up to 110 additional retail licenses, the news outlet reported.

The Illinois Senate approved a similar bill last month that would have created a new lottery for 75 additional dispensary licenses, but the House did not call the legislation for a vote before the lame duck session ended, The Chicago Sun-Times reported.

The awarding of the 75 original cannabis retail licenses has been delayed and held up in legal disputes since regulators announced in September that only 21 social equity applicants would be included in a lottery to win the licenses.

Ford’s bill would allow the lottery for the original 75 licenses to take place once unsuccessful applicants amend and resubmit their applications under a process outlined by Gov. J.B. Pritzker in an attempt to include more applicants in the lottery.

Once that process is completed, Ford’s proposal would set a second lottery comprised of some of the losing applicants to issue 75 additional licenses, The Chicago Sun-Times reported. Then, another 35 licenses could be awarded after state officials complete a study later this year to evaluate the state’s cannabis demand.

Ford’s legislation would also eliminate a provision in Illinois’ adult-use cannabis law that allows license applicants to earn social equity points by promising to hire employees that qualify for that designation, according to The Chicago Sun-Times. The bill would also allow existing dispensaries to relocate; the state’s medical cannabis dispensaries that are now selling adult-use cannabis would be able to move four months after the second lottery, while newly licensed adult-use retailers could relocate four months beyond that.

Ford expects the bill to be called in the House later this month, The Chicago Sun-Times reported.

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