Illinois State Rep. La Shawn Ford (D-Chicago) has led the charge to pass legislation creating new social equity-targeted cannabis dispensary licenses. Credit: From Zoom.

Taking an important step to create Illinois’s first new cannabis licenses since adult-use legalization in January 2020, on Tuesday the Illinois House passed with a bipartisan vote of 70-33 a package that creates lotteries for 110 new cannabis adult-use dispensary licenses targeted at social equity applicants and that allows five medical dispensary licenses to be assigned to social equity applicants through a lottery.

Cannabis legislation stumbled in the Illinois House last May, after breezing through the Senate, in part due to opposition from Black Caucus members concerned that new social equity licenses would be blocked from prime locations by already existing, majority white-owned businesses. The new law, HB1443, contains a provision that one social equity applicant can locate within 1,500 feet of a pre-existing dispensary, the current legally required separation. The bill also includes a provision allowing existing dispensaries to move locations, an option that is not currently legal. 

The legislation is now pending in the Senate Executive Committee. The Illinois legislature traditionally adjourns from its Spring Session on May 31, so the Senate will have to move quickly to ensure passage.


Editor Mike is a co-founder and the editor of Grown In, a U.S. national cannabis industry newsletter and training company. His career has taken him from Capitol Hill to Chicago City Hall, from...