Social Equity Definition / Criteria
- i. Previous Cannabis Conviction:
- ii. Income:
- iii. State Residency:
- iv. Qualifying Neighborhood / Municipal Residency:
Illinois was the first state in which the legislature legalized adult-use cannabis with a social equity program included— however as of January 15, 2022, no social equity operators in Illinois have begun business due to delays caused by lawsuits.
In the state of Illinois, “Social Equity Applicant” means an applicant that is an Illinois resident that meets one of the following criteria:
(1) an applicant with at least 51% ownership and control by one or more individuals who have resided for at least 5 of the preceding 10 years in a Disproportionately Impacted Area;
(2) an applicant with at least 51% ownership and control by one or more individuals who:
(i) have been arrested for, convicted of, or adjudicated delinquent for any offense that is eligible for expungement under this Act; or
(ii) is a member of an impacted family;
(3) for applicants with a minimum of 10 full-time employees, an applicant with at least 51% of current employees who:
(i) currently reside in a Disproportionately Impacted Area; or
(ii) have been arrested for, convicted of, or adjudicated delinquent for any offense that is eligible for expungement under this Act or member of an impacted family.
Social Equity Provisions
Illinois Social Equity program proposes to provide forthcoming participants with the following resources:
- Technical assistance and individualized support through the state’s partner network for pre- and post-licensing, legal assistance, and loan application assistance.
- Eligibility to receive 50 points (out of a possible total of 250 from IDFPR on their dispensary license application score or receive 200 points (out of possible total 1000) from Illinois Department of Agriculture on their craft grower, infuser, or transporter license application score
- Eligibility to pay reduced license and application fees.
Access to low-interest loans for starting and operating a cannabis-related business
View the Administrative Rules for the Social Equity Cannabis Loan Program.
License Priorities and Set Asides
- License Priorities / Set Asides:
In Illinois, the Department can reserve up to 55 additional Conditional Adult Use Dispensing Organization (retail) licenses for Qualifying Social Equity Justice Involved Applicants. The law specifies how many of the reserved licenses can be distributed in each region of the state.
Fee Waivers and Reductions
- Fee Waivers / Reductions:
In Illinois, qualified social equity applicants are given a 50% discount on all application fees, licensing fees and other financial requirements. For example the normal application fee is $5,000 with a biannual licensing fee of $60,000 however for social equity applicants the application fee is only $2,500 with a $30,000 biannual licensing fee.
Other Financial Support for Social Equity Applicants and Licensees
Illinois allocates funding to support their social equity program. As soon as practical after July 1, 2019, the Illinois will transfer $12,000,000 from the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Fund to the Cannabis Business Development Fund. Additionally, all money collected from medical cannabis companies for Early Approval Adult Use Dispensing Organization Licenses issued before January 1, 2021 will be deposited into the Cannabis Business Development Fund.
The Cannabis Business Development Fund will be exclusively used for the following purposes:
- to provide low-interest rate loans and grants to Qualified Social Equity Applicants to pay for ordinary and necessary expenses to start and operate a cannabis business establishment;
- to compensate the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity for any costs related to the provision of low-interest loans and grants to Qualified Social Equity Applicants;
- to provide targeted outreach and support for Social Equity Applicants and Qualified Social Equity Applicants;
- to assist with job training and technical assistance for residents in Disproportionately Impacted Areas.
- to conduct any study or research concerning the participation of minorities, women, veterans, or people with disabilities in the cannabis industry, including, without limitation, barriers to such individuals entering the industry as equity owners of cannabis business establishments.