Back in 2019, many marijuana industry experts trumpeted Illinois as setting a new bar for social equity: State lawmakers created a potential blueprint to provide greater opportunities for minority entrepreneurs in Illinois’ new recreational cannabis industry.
But three years later, the social equity program is still struggling to get off the ground, in part because of lawsuits and the COVID-19 pandemic.
At the same time, existing marijuana companies that were operating before the launch of adult-use sales in 2020 dominate a recreational market that today generates more than $1 billion in annual revenue.
Last summer, after a yearlong delay, Illinois awarded 40 craft cannabis cultivation licenses, most of them to minority entrepreneurs.
But licensees say the 5,000 square-foot canopy limit is too restrictive.
So they support legislation that would nearly triple the canopy size to 14,000 square feet, which they say is needed to attract investors and make their enterprises economically viable.