New marijuana industry bill could leave minority-run business behind

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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — It seems to be on a fast track in Springfield. A vote on the marijuana bill could come by the end of next week.

But some potential investors would rather Springfield slow down on Senate Bill 7.  The 500-page bill has a group of minority investors concerned minority-owned businesses may be left out of the growing industry.

The bill is being discussed in the state capital this week with a major portion being social equity and the inclusion of minority communities.

The bill would allow current medical marijuana license holders to apply early for a recreational marijuana license. But it’s estimated that only 2% of medical marijuana license holders are minorities. An early application process means that minority representation would remain the same initially.

“This is a chance for minorities to participate in this industry,” potential investor Elio Montenegro said. “Once these licenses are issued the door closes and then what happens?”

Jamil Taylor is with Justice Grown, a licensed cultivation operation.

“If you allow them a six-month head start, they know all the real estate, they know where all the patients are and they could block us out of certain locations,” Taylor said.

The issue is just one part of the social equity portion of the bill.  Supporters said it has a lot of strong pieces that would help minority communities, like an expungement program and dollars that would be invested in neighborhoods that have been impacted by the war on drugs.

Lawmakers in Springfield could vote on Senate Bill 7 next week.

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