Governor announces new lottery dates for cannabis dispensary, grower licenses

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FILE – This April 6, 2018, file photo shows the leaves of a marijuana plant inside Ultra Health’s cultivation greenhouse in Bernalillo, N.M. New Mexico would legalize recreational marijuana sales without exceptions for dissenting cities and counties under a rebooted proposal form legislators that emphasizes small business opportunities and ready access to pot for 80,000 current medical cannabis patients. Legalization for the first time enjoys the full throttled support of second-year Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, who set up a volunteer commission last year to vet health and public safety concerns about recreational cannabis and on Thursday, Jan. 16, 2020, pitched the benefits of the pot economy to a gathering business leaders. (AP Photo/Susan Montoya Bryan, File)

CHICAGO, Ill. (WCIA) — Governor JB Pritzker announced Thursday three lotteries to hand out 185 licenses for adult-use cannabis dispensaries will be held in July and August.

A press release adds more than 200 people across the state are getting the green light to get their license for craft growing, infusion, and transportation. That’s the first set of licenses to be awarded under the Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act (CRTA). The release says almost 70% of those people are not White and all of them qualify for social equity applications.

The governor also signed new law that his office says will establish more avenues to include more eligible social equity applicants in the new cannabis industry.

“Over the past century, the failed war on drugs has destroyed families, filled prisons with nonviolent offenders, and disproportionately disrupted Black and brown communities. Legalizing adult-use cannabis brought about an important change and this latest piece of legislation helps move us even closer to our goal of establishing a cannabis industry in Illinois that doesn’t shy away from the pain caused by the war on drugs, but instead centers equity and community reinvestment as the key to moving forward,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “I would like to thank Representative Ford and Leader Lightford for their partnership, unwavering commitment to serving the people of Illinois, and hard work on getting this legislation across the finish line.”

“Almost all states that have legalized cannabis have done so in a way that produced a multi-billion-dollar industry dominated by a handful of corporations and individuals that lack diversity. But Illinois is attempting to produce a cannabis industry that actually looks like Illinois,” said Toi Hutchinson, Senior Advisor on Cannabis Control. “What we’re attempting to accomplish is hard to do and takes time to accomplish, but we have an obligation to ensure that it gets as strong a start as possible. These upcoming dispensary license lotteries are a result of the administration’s continued commitment to working hand in hand with the General Assembly, community groups, and other stakeholders, to put equity first as we take these initial steps in building an inclusive industry.” 

There will be three lotteries for adult-use dispensary license applicants this year. They will be held on:

  • July 29: the lottery for qualifying applicants who received who received a score of at least 85% of the 250 application points will be held for the 55 licenses in that category.
  • August 5: the lottery for social equity justice-involved applicants who received a score of at least 85% of the 250 application points and are located in a disproportionately impacted area or have an eligible conviction will be held for the 55 available licenses in that category.
  • August 19: the final lottery will be held for top scoring, tied applicants for the original 75 licenses outlined in the CRTA.

Under the CRTA, the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) can issue 75 conditional adult-use cannabis dispensary licenses. The release says HB 1443 expands opportunities by creating two new lotteries:

  • A social equity justice-involved lottery for 55 additional licenses to be awarded to:
    • those who have received a score of at least 85% on their application, or 213 out of a total of 250 possible points; and
    • live in a disproportionately impacted area, has an eligible cannabis conviction, or has a family member with an eligible cannabis conviction;
  • A lottery for an additional 55 licenses for applicants who had a score of at least 85% on their application. In total, 185 dispensary licenses will be determined through the lottery process.

“Today, we continue our march forward in the implementation of the most equitable cannabis program in the country,” said Mario Treto, Jr., Acting Secretary of the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation. “This announcement reflects the tireless work by the Pritzker Administration, lawmakers, and advocates to ensure the next generation of cannabis dispensary licensees are qualified applicants who reflect the diversity that truly makes this state great. We look forward to this undertaking and are ready to take these next steps.”

HB 1443 is effective immediately.

The Cannabis Community College Vocational Pilot Program is also being set up to build a curriculum to train a new generation of “cannabis industry professionals and leaders,” the release says.

Per the CRTA, IDOA was limited to issuing licenses for the program to a maximum of eight community colleges statewide. HB 1443 gets rid of those restrictions and permits the department the ability to grant licenses to as many community colleges that are eligible.

Today, Pritzker’s office announced the seven inaugural recipients of the license as well as plans to announce additional licenses soon. The community college license recipients are: Kishwaukee College, Oakton College, Olive-Harvey College, Shawnee Community College, Southwestern Illinois College, Triton College, and Wilbur Wright College.

Social Equity Cannabis Loan Program

The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) is starting the Social Equity Loan (SEL) program to get financial help to social equity licensees, and to help build access to capital for prospective social equity cannabis entrepreneurs over time.

“The SEL program will provide flexible low interest loans to assist with the expenses of starting and operating a cannabis business establishment. Loan terms will be determined on a case-by-case basis, with a general repayment term of over five years.” says the release. “To be eligible for the loan, a cannabis business establishment must receive licensure and meet the qualifications of a social equity applicant.

“Funding will be prioritized for applicants demonstrating the greatest adverse impact from the failed war on drugs. Licensees offered conditional acceptance into the Loan Program will be referred to lender partners for a full review of the loan application for funding consideration.”

“Under Governor Pritzker’s leadership, Illinois is working to help communities disproportionately impacted by the war on drugs compete in the newly regulated cannabis market by providing technical assistance and helping cannabis entrepreneurs access capital,” said DCEO Acting Director Sylvia Garcia. “Through the cannabis social equity loan program, DCEO is working with lending partners to bring both state and private dollars to the table and maximize the impact of our cannabis social equity fund for the communities that need it most.”  

DCEO is partnering with two lenders, Good Tree Capital and Credit Union 1, to administer the loan. They will work with the state to provide low-interest loan agreements for qualifying SEA applicants. Loans may be made available up to the following amounts:

  • Transporter: $100,000 
  • Adult-Use Dispensing Organization: $500,000 
  • Infuser: $500,000 
  • Cultivator: $1,000,000 

“Through its partnership with lending partners, the State anticipates up to $34 million in loans could be made available in the first year, and the State will work with partners to enhance the loan program to ensure that it is a sustainable source of financial support for the social equity community,” says the release.

DCEO has launched an application intake portal allowing social equity awardees to submit to the loan program. Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis. The intake application is the first step in the loan approval process. Approved applicants will be referred to the participating lenders for loan underwriting. The intake form can be found online here.

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