If, as is widely expected, Gov. Pritzker signs a bill that was passed to legalize recreational cannabis in Illinois, the state’s legalization law will be different from all others in several aspects.
First, Illinois will have defied the odds to legalize adult-use marijuana legislatively. All the other ten states have done so through voter initiatives. Lawmakers in New Jersey and New York at one time seemed poised to pass bills legalizing recreational marijuana but intraparty disagreements have torpedoed those plans.
Another way in which Illinois’ law is unique is that it contains provisions which are aimed at promoting social equity in the marijuana industry. The law creates a Cannabis Business Development Fund through which minorities will be supported to join the legal industry. $12million has been earmarked for this fund and a fraction of the fees levied on players in the cannabis industry will go to this fund as well.
Additionally, licensing fees will be lowered for applicants from minority communities who wish to start recreational marijuana businesses. Loans will also be given to these “equity” applicants at low interest rates. This will address the longstanding difficulty that members of these communities have always had when it comes to accessing business loans.
The law also stipulates that at least eight community colleges should offer marijuana business education programs by September 2020. A minimum of five of those colleges should enroll at least half of their students from low-income communities since those are the primary beneficiaries of this provision in the law.
Another unique feature of the Illinois law is that 25 percent of the sales tax levied on recreational marijuana sales as well as 25 percent of all other fees levied in the industry will go towards funding a “Restore, Reinvent and Renew” program through which grants will be given for the purpose of combating violence and revitalizing the communities most affected by the war on drugs.
The lawmakers in Illinois didn’t just talk about social justice and equity; they went all out and formulated a law which spells out exactly how these ideals will be brought to life in the state. This law is certainly going to be a model from which other jurisdictions borrow ideas when formulating their own laws.
One has no choice but to believe that the entire marijuana industry, including Therma Bright Inc. (TSX.V: THRM) (OTC: THRBF) and The Supreme Cannabis Company Inc. (TSX.V: FIRE) (OTCQX: SPRWF), are likely to be pleased by this cannabis news coming out of Illinois.
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