Big Money and a Big Stumble Mark First Year of Illinois’ Recreational Weed Law

A year after legalization, social equity remains a pipe dream.

CHICAGO — Illinois’ coffers have enjoyed a boost in tax revenue approaching the amount generated by booze sales thanks to the year that recreational marijuana has been legal there. But that success is dampened by the fact that the program’s loftier goal of bringing social equity to an industry dominated by wealthy white men hasn’t been met.

Sales of highly taxed marijuana that have topped $1 billion are popular in a state with a $3.9 billion budget deficit. But other states are watching Illinois’ experiment that promised to ensure people of color could reap revenue in a rapidly growing, multi-billion dollar industry.”

That’s not happening.

In the first round of applications, only 21 entrants were selected for a lottery for 75 licenses. According to the state, each met the social equity requirements and at least six are identified as being minority-owned. Until those licenses are awarded, however, there are still no minority-owned cannabis shops in the state.

During the first round of licensing, each applicant could seek up to 10 of the 75 initial dispensary slots. The original plan was for all of those licenses to be allocated through a lottery. [Read More @]

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