Legislation revamping the state’s system for awarding marijuana dispensary licenses passed the House on Tuesday.
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 Chicago Democratic Rep. La Shawn Ford, 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. Democratic Rep. Carol Ammons, of Urbana questioned whether his 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.”
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. [Read more at Northern Public Radio]