mj products 071521SPRINGFIELD - Illinois has created new marijuana dispensary licenses for social equity applicants because of a new law sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Kimberly A. Lightford (D-Maywood) that was signed Thursday. 

“The signing of HB1443 moves us closer to making the promise of equity in cannabis a reality in a state where the entire existing industry is White. I was proud to partner with State Representative LaShawn Ford in passing HB1443 which is the result of dozens of meetings with stakeholders and applicants who demanded that their voices be heard,” Lightford said. “This industry has the potential to change lives but only if we keep the principles of equity at the center of every decision we make. The signing of this legislation brings us one step closer to making these promises a reality.”

The new law fixes Illinois’ recreational cannabis regulations to ensure that licenses for minority applicants that have been delayed since May 1, 2020, are awarded. It also expands the total number of licenses available. There are still no dispensaries controlled by someone who is Black, Brown, or a woman.

The law creates two additional lotteries of 110 adult use license dispensaries for people who are social equity applicants –. The second lottery will consist of 55 licenses and is open to all applicants with a score of 85% of a total of 250 points and is a social equity applicant.

The third additional lottery would also consist of 55 licenses and would be for applicants with a score of 85% of a total of 250 points and who also meet the definition of “Social Equity Justice Involved” status. To qualify, applicants would have to meet the following requirements:

  • 51% ownership by one or more individuals who have resided in a disproportionally impacted area for five out of the last 10 years
  • 51% ownership by one or more individuals who have been arrested, convicted, or adjudicated delinquent for cannabis offenses or had a close family member (parent, child, spouse) with a cannabis offense.

Applicants would only be able to be awarded up to two licenses.

To also ensure that these new Black and Brown-owned businesses are able to find spaces in high value areas, the law allows social equity applicants’ businesses to be as close as within 1,500 feet of an existing dispensary.

Applicants do not need to submit a new application or pay new application fees and will be automatically entered into the new lotteries, which will be required to be completed within 10 days after the release of final scores of all the cannabis dispensary applications.

"There is a demand for these businesses, but they have to be given the opportunity to be located in high traffic locations,” Lightford said. “I cannot wait to see Black majority owners be successful in Illinois.”

HB 1443 was signed into law and will become effective immediately.