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Advocates call on Illinois lawmakers to create a more equal cannabis licensing system

SPRINGFIELD, Ill.(WGEM) — Illinois lawmakers heard from advocates Friday about ways to eliminate racial disparities within the medical and recreational cannabis industry.

The committee discussed several pieces of legislation that could improve the cannabis licensing system in the state.

Democratic Rep. La Shawn Ford said minority business owners don’t always have the same opportunities. He said it’s harder for minorities to get licenses compared to their white counterparts.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s top cannabis advisor, Toi Hutchinson, said the administration wants to change the way the industry looks for everyone.

“We’re all fighting to figure out, not whether we should have equity principles, but how much more we can do and how much stronger we can make it so that more people can participate,” Hutchinson said. “We actually can do the things we said we wanted to do which was change the face of the industry. What do you do with that money and how do you undo the past harms.”

Hutchinson said hearings with lawmakers are a great way to move forward.

Lawmakers noted that advocates have been fighting for these changes since the state legalized marijuana in 2020.

They hope to file legislation to address diversity and ownership in the industry soon.

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Ali Rasper

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