A push to create 75 additional cannabis dispensary licenses fell short on Wednesday, further stymying state lawmakers’ lofty goal of diversifying Illinois’ overwhelmingly white weed industry.
Though state senators approved the measure earlier Wednesday, their counterparts in the House failed to call it for a vote before the lame duck session ended.
State Rep. La Shawn Ford, a Chicago Democrat who was part of a legislative working group that contemplated the additional licenses, said the bill fell flat because legislators “failed at the art of compromise.”
“Because of that the state of Illinois continues to lock Black people out of an emerging economy,” said Ford, who previously said the state’s social equity efforts have amounted to “an epic failure.”
Ford said the major sticking point was the prospect of allowing existing medical dispensaries to relocate without losing their ability to sell recreational weed — something some major pot firms have long been pushing for. Industry insiders have estimated the state is missing out on roughly $100 million in tax revenues by blocking dispensaries from moving.
While that provision was included in a recent amendment to a separate bill, it was absent from the measure approved by the Senate. Ford, who doesn’t support the relocation effort, claimed the debate over whether to include that language in the final bill ultimately held up voting.
After the bill failed Wednesday, Toi Hutchinson, Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s senior advisor on cannabis control, urged lawmakers “to take swift action on passing the cannabis legislation“ in its next session.
“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,” Hutchinson said in a statement.
The push to