Home Economy Lawyers, race and money: Illinois’ messy weed experiment

Lawyers, race and money: Illinois’ messy weed experiment

by Team Marijuana News

Illinois stood to become a model for diversifying the marijuana industry in other states when it legalized the drug last year. So far, its success is half-baked.

As the first state Legislature to legalize recreational cannabis sales after others approved it by ballot measure, Illinois crafted what it hopes will be a national template for how to atone for the war on drugs while also generating new revenue.

It’s on pace to pull in $1.3 billion in weed sales this year, roughly double what it got in 2020, and thousands of marijuana-related criminal convictions have been wiped clean. But Illinois’ effort to diversify the lucrative industry away from established white-owned businesses has stumbled several times over the past two years. It’s created a sore spot for the state that’s attracted a steady barrage of lawsuits over the lottery system built to seed scores of new small businesses owned by minorities, women and veterans.

“Yes, there have been challenges because we just put the jackhammer in the ground for the first time. And that’s loud and noisy and hard,” Toi Hutchinson, Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s senior cannabis adviser, said in an interview. “You have to go through it until you get to what building a new economy and a new industry is going to eventually look like. I never thought this was going to be a walk in the park.” [Read more at Politico]

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