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Illinois looking to fix cannabis licensing issues with new law

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(The Center Square) – A bill signed by Gov. J.B. Pritzker late last week makes changes to the licensing policies for the state’s cannabis businesses to bring equity to the industry.

Adult cannabis sales have been legal in Illinois since 2020. Even with limited license holders for the production, transportation and sale, the state’s industry has generated billions in sales and hundreds of millions in tax revenue for the state.

Now law, Senate Bill 1559 waives annual license fees for existing cannabis transportation organizations through Jan. 1, 2027. During the fall veto session last month, cannabis business advocates shared their support for the measure.

Tiffany Ingram of the Cannabis Business Association said the measure will help address the increase in applications.

“We … are supportive of this measure because we understand that the way transportation licenses are released every single year, and what has come to our understanding is the number of licenses that are being released is not matching up with the amount of work that is available,” Ingram said. “There is a structural imbalance there.”

The bill went into effect immediately after Pritzker’s signature Friday.

Peter Contos of Cannabis Equity Illinois said the measure will help provide relief in the coming months.

“This is the most pressing deadline of all the cannabis items right now as the statute currently reads that the [Illinois] Department of Agriculture is legally required to put out another round of applications for those transporter licenses at the turn of the year,” Contos told legislators.

According to state Rep. Norine Hammond, R-Macomb, the measure does three things, including cutting application fees.

“Between January of 2024 and January of 2027, there will be no fees required for the application for transporters,” Hammond said.

Illinois has the third-largest cannabis market in the nation.

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