Certain areas in Illinois to get advantage when opening marijuana businesses

SPRINGFIELD (HOI) — Those living in areas most affected by the “war on marijuana” will get extra assistance when opening or operating a marijuana business, state officials said Monday.

The “disproportionately impacted areas” are defined by the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity as an area with high rates of arrest, conviction, and incarceration related to marijuana, among other factors such as poverty and unemployment.

A map showing where these areas are located included parts of Peoria, Pekin, Bloomington, Normal, Canton and Havana.

The sale of recreational marijuana will be legal on January 1, 2020.

Applicants will have the chance to receive grants, technical assistance, low-interest loans and fee reductions or waivers when opening or operating a recreational marijuana business.

To apply for the state assistance, owners must live and operate out of these areas.

“As Illinois continues its path toward putting equity at the forefront of the state’s new adult-use cannabis expansion, it’s important to create opportunities in communities that have been hardest hit by the war on marijuana,” said Pritzker in a statement Monday. “Not only will social equity applicants receive points on their applications, but many applicants will also get grants, technical assistance, low-interest loans and fee reductions and waivers. Taken together, these efforts will do more than any other state in the nation has done to focus on equity.”

The state listed a number of requirements to be qualified as an applicant:

  • At least 51% ownership and control by one or more individuals who have resided at least 5 of the preceding 10 years in a disproportionately impacted area;
  •  At least 51% ownership and control by one or more individuals [or family member of an individual] who have been arrested for, convicted of, or adjudicated delinquent for an offense that is eligible for cannabis expungement; or
  • Applicants with minimum of 10 full-time employees, at least 51% of employees who:

A. Currently reside in a disproportionately impacted area; or
B. Have been arrested for, convicted of, or adjudicated delinquent for an offense that is eligible for cannabis expungement, or is a member of an impacted family.

“Too many communities in Illinois have been torn apart due to failed drug policies. By providing
resources to justice-impacted individuals and members of their communities, we can ensure that the legalization of cannabis benefits all Illinoisans, regardless of income or background,” said Erin Guthrie, Acting Director of the DCEO.

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