Mar 21, 2022 - Business

Illinois' pot program pitfalls

Photo of people mulling about in front of a buidling.
The Sunnyside recreational marijuana store in Wrigleyville during its grand opening last November. Photo: E. Jason Wambsgans/Chicago Tribune via Getty Images

Despite a downstate judge allowing Illinois to award 60 new business licenses for growing marijuana after a recent three-month pause, dispensary licenses are still being held up by the courts.

Why it matters: When pot was legalized in 2019, Governor Pritzker and the state legislature boasted that we had the most socially equitable legal marijuana program in the country. But many of those promises were never delivered.

Context: The program that the governor modified in 2021 to get more minority-owned businesses in the mix has been held up by the courts.

Driving the news: The state introduced a new application system last week for the 55 dispensary licenses that will be given out in 2022.

What they're saying: "Once heralded as the leader in social equity, poor planning and management has allowed Illinois' cannabis industry to be captured by billion-dollar corporations, while states like Ohio and Massachusetts have quietly supported substantially more diverse – and local – weed businesses," marijuana newsletter Grown In editor Mike Fourcher tells Axios.

What's next: Grown In is hosting on Thursday a webinar with state regulators on social equity in Illinois.

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