Many people say the legal marijuana industry in Illinois has complex regulations and that there is room for politics to interfere with the process of licensing businesses. The possibility of litigation against the licensing system is also high, and some are calling for the establishment of a commission to streamline the regulatory process.
One of the people thinking this way is Rep. Marcus Evans, a Democratic lawmaker from Chicago. He revealed that he is planning to table a bill that will create a cannabis commission similar to the commissions governing the gaming and alcohol industries. Evans is irked by the numerous state agencies that applicants have to reach out to in their bid to obtain a license. Each step of this lengthy process involves the payment of fees, and these can quickly add up. He says matters are worse for social equity applicants who have even more steps to follow before they get the nod to participate in the legal marijuana industry in the state.
Evans also says creating a cannabis commission will save time and reduce the confusion surrounding the myriad state agencies with which applicants have to engage. He says he requires the help of a flow chart when explaining to people the process of getting a business licensed.
Pam Althoff, executive director of the Cannabis Association of Illinois, agrees. She wants to see the regulatory process streamlined so that people don’t have to contact different agencies, each of which plays a minor role in the licensing process. Some of the departments that applicants have to interface with include public health, revenue, agriculture, police and others.
Evans’ plan is to table a bill that will see the creation of a commission having seven individuals, including an executive director who will be a full-time employee. Other members would be representatives selected by the leaders of the state assembly along with gubernatorial appointees. The lawmaker believes that such a commission will bring stability to the work of regulating the marijuana industry and that future political interference in the licensing process will be forestalled, especially when new leaders who aren’t keen on a legal marijuana industry take office.
Cannabis sales are booming in the state, with records showing that a hefty $1.5 billion was generated as total sales during the 2021–2022 fiscal year. From this amount, $445 million went to the state coffers in the form of taxes and fees. These tax dollars are distributed according to a predetermined formula. For example, 25% goes to grants issued to organizations working in the communities that bore the brunt of the drug war while 8% is earmarked for supporting law enforcement efforts in the state.
It is such a progressive approach to overseeing the marijuana industry that will create enabling conditions for multistate cannabis operators such as American Cannabis Partners to thrive in the different markets that they set up shop in.
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