CHICAGO – Social Equity was a major component of Illinois legalization of cannabis. The state created a fund from the revenue to help those most impacted by the failed war on drug to legally operate in the market. However, those funds aren’t being distributed.
Through December, Illinois Department of Revenue collected more than $175 million in taxes from legalized cannabis sales. The State has collected some $62 million that was put aside to help for helping minority businesses and neighborhood development, but the money hasn’t been spent yet, according to a published report. The funds are set aside for loans and grants to new cannabis entrepreneurs, but cannot be awarded until the business licenses are issued.
The problems with the state’s system to hand out new cannabis business licenses and numerous requests for help, according to reporting today from The Chicago Tribune.
State Sen. Heather Steans (pictured above) helped sponsor the law that legalized cannabis, which includes setting aside money for neighborhood development and ensuring equity in the way licenses are awarded, and to help minorities access the resources they need to succeed.
“I’m certainly hoping those dollars get out as soon as possible,” Steans said. “We did a lot to make this the most equitable cannabis system in the country. … We haven’t seen the results yet we wanted in any of those areas, so we obviously need to stay on it.”
An effort is being made now to speed up the process according to this reporting from the Chicago Tribune. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and problems with the scoring process, those licenses have been delayed for eight months. Unfortunately, an effort to rescore applications may take weeks or months more.