(The Center Square) – Illinois House Democrats have formed a working group they say focuses on equity and fairness in the state’s cannabis industry.
Adult use cannabis sales have been legal in Illinois since 2020. Even with limited license holders for the production, transportation and sale, the state’s industry has generated billions of dollars in sales and hundreds of millions in tax revenue for the state.
State Rep. LaShawn Ford, D-Chicago, leads the working group. He said the group will be responsible for reviewing cannabis legislation to continue the work of developing comprehensive policy, responding to the needs of the industry and advancing the principles of equity.
State Reps. Marcus Evans, D-Chicago, Barbara Hernandez, D-Aurora, Bob Rita, D-Blue Island, Jennifer Gong-Gershowitz, D-Glenview, Sonya Harper, D-Chicago, and Bob Morgan, D-Highland Park, make up the rest of the group.
Ford told The Center Square the group would help license holders who can’t afford to open their doors.
"Conditional license holders have been saying that they cannot move forward with being successful because they do not have the capital to actually open," Ford said. "So they want to see why we are not able to allow for the conditional licenses to sell equity in their license so they can get money to open."
Ford said conditional license holders in Illinois can’t take on investors until they open their doors.
A lot of these license holders come from areas that were hit hard by drugs, Ford said.
"Ultimately, our goal is to realize the full intent of the cannabis law," Ford said. "That is to make sure we help those communities that are hardest hit by the war on drugs."
Illinois House Speaker Emmanuel "Chris" Welch, D-Hillside, said groups like Ford’s will keep fighting for the rights of all Illinoisans.
“I’m a big believer in the collaborative process of our working groups, and an even bigger believer in the commitment and ingenuity of the members of the House Democratic Caucus,” Welch said. “House Democrats said that Illinois should lead with the nation’s most expansive cannabis legalization package, but we knew that truly transformative policy won’t come in a single bill."
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February 28, 2023 at 05:01PM