One of Illinois’ largest pot companies drops out of trade group

“We have fundamental issues with several of the association’s self-interested initiatives," the letter continued. "We do not want to be a thorn in CBAI’s side as membership seems aligned with your priorities, or at least willing to go along with them.”

The move comes as legislators are trying to make changes to the state’s recreational-cannabis law that are designed to get new retail licenses moving. Illinois was supposed to issue 75 new retail licenses a year ago, but the process has been stalled by litigation and problems with the scoring of applications.

"The Cannabis Business Association of Illinois believes social equity licenses must be issued as soon as possible, and the General Assembly should focus on ensuring any change to cannabis law puts awards for social-equity applicants at the forefront," the trade group said in response to GTI’s announcement. "This is no time for distractions. We have made clear that any negotiations on the law should occur between the General Assembly and the social-equity applicants who have had their lives on hold waiting for licenses to be awarded."

A centerpiece of the law is diversifying the nearly all-white ownership of the Illinois marijuana business by awarding licenses to “social-equity” applicants from neighborhoods hit hard by the "War on Drugs," or those who have been arrested or convicted for low-level possession offenses.

But a major source of tension in the Illinois law was that it allowed existing medical-marijuana license holders to sell recreational marijuana, essentially giving those companies a head start. Owners of some dispensaries have sought to move to larger locations or to communities that allow sales of recreational marijuana. But that’s been opposed by some who see that as providing more benefits to incumbents.

GTI originally pushed the state to allow such relocations because Naperville, where one of its medical dispensaries is located, initially would not allow recreational sales. But the company backtracked after voters later approved recreational sales.

Last spring GTI lobbied against a bill designed to fix several problems in the original recreational-marijuana law because it also included a provision to allow existing weed dispensaries to move to new locations 90 days after social-equity licenses were issued.

The legislation failed, creating tension with other companies that still need to relocate dispensaries. Relocation remains a sticking point in the cannabis legislation being proposed in Springfield, where GTI has its own challenges since the Chicago Tribune reported March 29 that the company is under federal investigation for “campaign donations and other steps Green Thumb Industries took as it sought to secure growing and distribution licenses in Illinois and several other states.”

via Crain’s Chicago Business

April 30, 2021 at 04:31PM

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