Social equity applicants supported by Illinois cannabis companies shut out on licenses

Incubator programs formed by Illinois-based cannabis companies to assist social equity entrepreneurs in the application process did not produce any companies that advanced to the lottery stage for retail licenses. 

“We are disappointed for our LEAP applicants that they are not in the pool of 21 entities that may be awarded the 75 new licenses,” said Linda Marsicano of Chicago-based Green Thumb Industries, referring to the company’s License Education Assistance Program that was formed in 2019. “But we remain hopeful that they will take advantage of other opportunities in the Illinois cannabis industry.”

The Illinois Cannabis Regulation and Tax act, which legalized adult-use cannabis in Illinois, allowed incumbent medical marijuana companies operating in the state to expand into recreational sales on the condition that they invest in programs that supported social equity applicants. Incubator programs like LEAP and the Social Equity & Education Development initiative offered by Chicago-based Cresco Labs were established to guide entrepreneurs through the application process. 

“As part of a company that really took our responsibility seriously, we are disappointed in the outcome of this award process,” said Mark de Souza, CEO of Elmhurst-based Revolution Global.  

Many of these programs also provided support for entrepreneurs applying for craft grow, infusion and transporter licenses. The state is expected to announce more information about who will be awarded those licenses in the coming weeks. 

“Our two (retail application) groups were not successful,” said PharmaCann executive Jeremy Unruh. “But we still have some applications out there.”