In just a few months recreational cannabis will be legal in Illinois and state officials are working to ensure all communities can participate in the legal cannabis industry.
Monday, the Pritzker Administration released maps that designate areas they are considering "disproportionately impacted areas" for cannabis program's social equity applicants.
According to the administration, more than 2 million Illinoisans live in a disproportionately impacted area.
According to the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, in order be considered a disproportionately impacted area, a census tract must have high rates of arrest, convictions and incarcerations related to cannabis. Other qualifications, including poverty and unemployment, also contribute to the designation.
The effort is part of the administration's commitment to ensure communities that have been historically impacted by cannabis prohibition will not be excluded once marijuana is legal.
"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 Governor JB Pritzker. "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."
Later this year, DCEO will also launch a program that provides low-interest loans to qualified social equity applicants to help cover the expense of starting and operating a cannabis business.
Anyone applying for a license to operate a cannabis business can include information to verify their status as a social equity candidate, and applicants already classified as social equity candidates can apply for DCEO loans.
In addition to offering loans, DCEO said they will offer technical assistance and support for social equity applicants, including putting together a business plan and applying for a license.