Illinois cannabis businesses call for unified regulatory body amid equity concerns

The calls for cannabis equity in Illinois are getting louder.

Marijuana businesses big and small are calling for one oversight body to regulate the industry.

The problem is there isn't one regulatory body to oversee the industry in the state, instead there are seven agencies that regulate different aspects of the business.

The most glaring difference between agencies is that the Illinois Department of Agriculture allows craft growers to sell equity in their licenses at any given time, while the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation prohibits dispensary license holders from selling until they have opened for business.

That is designed to keep new minority license holders from being replaced by wealthy white-owned conglomerates, but keeps cash-strapped startups from getting new investors to become operational.

"This is very beneficial for us as craft growers and small business owners in the cannabis space in Illinois. It makes a difference in whether we'll make money or not," said Belicia Royster, founder and chief empowerment officer of Social Equity Empowerment Network.


"After an eight-year head start that corporate cannabis has had, we're asking for opportunities now, together. Because the numbers are alarming of how many businesses have actually been licensed but yet unable to stand up."

The Cannabis Business Association of Illinois is lobbying for a cannabis commission, with five to nine bipartisan members appointed by the governor.

It would hold monthly public meetings, publish agendas and minutes, and be subject to the Freedom of Information Act.