A major revamp of the process for awarding 110 more recreational marijuana dispensary licenses to diversify ownership in the state’s exploding legal cannabis industry received bipartisan approval Tuesday in the Illinois House.
House Bill 1443, designed to increase ownership of dispensaries by Black people, Hispanic people and women, passed on a 70-33 vote.
The bill goes to the Senate as the General Assembly races to complete its spring session by May 31.
Sponsored by state Rep. LaShawn Ford, D-Chicago, the bill is the Democratic-controlled legislature’s first tweak in the 2019 law that paved the way for the state’s legal marijuana cultivation centers and dispensaries that serve customers 21 and older.
Legal sales of medical and recreational marijuana topped $1 billion in 2020.
Central Illinois lawmakers voting for SB 1443 included Reps. Tim Butler, R-Springfield, Jehan Gordon-Booth, D-Peoria, Ryan Spain, R-Peoria, and C.D. Davidsmeyer, R-Jacksonville.
Those voting “no” included Reps. Avery Bourne, R-Morrisonville, Norine Hammond, R-Macomb; Mike Murphy, R-Springfield, and Keith Sommer, R-Morton.
Rep. Sue Scherer, D-Decatur, didn’t vote.
Some House members criticized the bill for failing to deal with more of the challenges seen by the industry since legal recreational cannabis sales began in January 2020.
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