21 Finalists to be Entered into a Lottery for 75 New Illinois Cannabis Dispensaries – WTTW News

(WTTW News)

It’s down to 21 finalists among the 700 that applied for highly coveted licenses that will bring 75 new cannabis dispensaries to the state. The state will hold a lottery sometime this month to make it final.

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When Illinois legalized marijuana in January, Gov. J.B. Pritzker heralded the law for the social equity and diversity it would bring to an industry dominated by white owners, but early feedback from Black lawmakers is that the process and its results are disappointing.

Individuals who had been sentenced on low-level marijuana crimes, and their family members, were to get a leg up, as were those who reside in areas most affected by the war on drugs.

Each of the companies that made it to the final round scored perfectly on that and other criteria, according to the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation.

“We are extremely gratified that every license in this first round will go to a social equity applicant. Illinois is the first and only state in the nation to reach this equity milestone,” said Toi Hutchinson, the governor’s top advisor on cannabis. “Equity has been at the center of this legislation from day one of negotiations, as we worked to create a system that prioritizes social equity applicants and reinvests revenues in communities hit hardest by the war on drugs.”

A similar application process is in the works for licenses for craft cannabis growers and transporting cannabis.

But Rep. Sonya Harper is asking for the state to halt all of it so that Black lawmakers and other observers can examine the process before issuing licenses.

“As a lifelong resident of West Englewood in Chicago, an area that still today suffers the effects from the failed War on Drugs and in desperate need of economic repair,

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