Illinois’ cannabis industry seeking changes to increase licensing

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(The Center Square) – A bill soon to be sent to Gov. J.B. Pritzker makes changes to the licensing policies for cannabis growers and how the product is transported in an effort supporters say is meant 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 of dollars in sales and hundreds of millions in tax revenue for the state.

During the fall veto session, advocates and lawmakers discussed an amendment to a measure to make it easier for small growers and address a lack of licenses for transporters.

State Rep. Norine Hammond, R-Macomb, said the amendment 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.

The bill received little pushback from lawmakers and has the support of cannabis groups.

Tiffany Ingram of the Cannabis Business Association explained her support for Senate Bill 1559.

“We at the CBI 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.”

Peter Contos of Cannabis Equity Illinois said the bill would clear up the licensing backlog.

“We have a very long backlog of transporters who just actively cannot find contracts or find work,” Contos said. “We are just trying to make sure we do not add more people to the back of the line.”

After passing both chambers, the bill can now be sent to Pritzker for further action.

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

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