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ILLINOIS

Statewide

Illinois Adult-Use Cannabis Social Equity Program 

Pursuant to the Cannabis Regulation & Tax Act (“CRTA”) 410 ILCS 705, cannabis became legal for adult use in Illinois on January 1, 2020. The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) mission under the CRTA is to develop accessible opportunities for technical assistance and access to capital for persons seeking to participate in the Illinois cannabis business industry, subject to appropriations from the Cannabis Business Development Fund. 

As part of these efforts, DCEO has developed a network of technical assistance providers that are available to assist social equity applicants in their quest to procure and retain a cannabis business license. Additionally, DCEO established the Social Equity Cannabis Loan Program for the purposes of providing financial assistance to social equity applicants.

Through its Illinois Adult-Use Cannabis Social Equity Program, DCEO is committed to connecting persons and communities that have been historically impacted by arrests and imprisonment for cannabis offenses to have opportunities to participate in the legal cannabis industry. 

Social Equity Cannabis Loan Program

Subject to appropriations from the Cannabis Business Development Fund (CBDF), DCEO established the Social Equity Loan Program for the purposes of providing financial assistance to social equity applicants. Through this loan program, DCEO is able to offer low-interest loans to qualified social equity applicants applying for available licenses.

When a social equity applicant has been awarded a conditional license under the Cannabis Regulation & Tax Act (CRTA) to operate a cannabis business establishment, they are considered a “qualified social equity applicant.” Only qualified social equity applicants are eligible for social equity loans and grants from appropriations from the Cannabis Business Development Fund. 

 

Private Organizations

The Majority Minority Group

Founded by Ron Holmes and Kareem Kenyatta, both natives of Chicago’s South Side, The Majority-Minority Group is a value-driven company that aims to create more minority-owned businesses. The company’s first stated mission is to put more color in the cannabis industry by helping minority and female applicants not just win cannabis licenses but also run successful businesses.

Holmes and Kenyatta, using a combined 25 years of experience in state government and politics, assisted in negotiating Illinois’ cannabis legalization legislation, hailed as the most social equity-driven cannabis law in the country. Holmes served as the lead lobbyist for The Medical Cannabis Alliance of Illinois, a trade association representing cultivation centers and dispensary organizations. Kenyatta lobbied on behalf of the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), the largest organization in the United States to focus on enacting humane marijuana laws.

While lobbying on behalf of the adult-use of cannabis in Illinois, Holmes and Kenyatta realized that cannabis legalization is more than an issue of racial and social justice for those disproportionately harmed by America’s drug war — it is also a business imperative in which people of color should and must participate.