Buckner for, Tarver absent, on bill creating new marijuana dispensary licenses – Hyde Park Herald

SPRINGFIELD — Legislation revamping the state’s system for awarding marijuana dispensary licenses passed the House on May 25.

The measure is meant to address shortcomings in the 2019 Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act, specifically in regard to a license lottery that was delayed by the pandemic, controversy and legal disputes for over a year.

Amendments to House Bill 1443, sponsored by West Side Rep. La Shawn Ford (D-8th), would create two new marijuana dispensary lotteries offering 55 licenses each while addressing lingering concerns regarding the original 75 licenses established in the 2019 law.

It passed the House in a 70-33 vote with bipartisan support, but also bipartisan opposition. Urbana Rep. Carol Ammons (D-103rd) questioned whether Ford’s legislation accomplished the social equity spirit of the initial marijuana legalization legislation.

“My dispensaries in Champaign-Urbana can be owned by a group from other states, taking the resources from Champaign-Urbana to Michigan, Ohio or some other state,” Ammons said. “I don’t do lotteries.”

Local Rep. Kam Buckner (D-26th), who represents southern Kenwood west of Woodlawn Avenue and Hyde Park west of Ellis Avenue and chairs the House Legislative Black Caucus, voted for the bill.

Rep. Curtis J. Tarver II (D-25th), who represents the rest of Hyde Park-Kenwood and has been a vociferous critic of the state’s social equity legalization policy, did not vote on Ford’s legislation.

Both Tarver and Buckner voted in 2019 to legalize marijuana in Illinois. Neither responded to Herald requests for comment about Ford’s legislation.

Ford described his bill as the best way to increase the possibility of local Black and Brown communities in Illinois getting access to the booming marijuana industry.

“I wish I could write a bill that would guarantee that Black people wouldn’t worry about the things that we worry about today, and that there was justice for all,” Ford said.

The 75

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