Amid uproar over the state’s troubled efforts to issue new cannabis licenses, state Rep. La Shawn Ford on Wednesday said he introduced a “shell bill” that will ultimately be used to create as many as 110 additional dispensary permits.
The Chicago Democrat filed the legislation last Wednesday and now plans to add language that would create the new licenses. The proposal is similar to a bill that cleared the Senate but ultimately went up in smoke during last month’s lame duck session.
“This is the language that’s coming from social equity applicants,” Ford said, referring to a designation created to diversify the state’s weed industry. “I really don’t have any interest in doing anything but what’s going to be good for the cannabis industry.”
The issuance of 75 outstanding dispensary licenses has been delayed by an ongoing controversy sparked by outcry from social equity applicants, who banded together after state officials announced last September that just 21 of the more than 900 dispensary applicant groups qualified for a lottery to determine the winners. Amid a series of lawsuits, Gov. J.B. Pritzker later announced that he was giving the losing applicants a second chance to earn the perfect score needed to qualify.
According to a draft of Ford’s bill, the lottery related to those licenses would take place once that supplementary grading process is completed. A second lottery comprised of some of the losing applicant groups would then be held no more than two days later to dole out 75 more licenses. And another 35 licenses would later be awarded after state officials complete a study analyzing the state’s demand for cannabis later this year.
The draft legislation would notably eliminate a provision in the legalization law that allows applicants to earn crucial social equity points by promising to hire individuals