Legislative Advocacy Platform
Since the Coalition was formed, it created a platform of legislative goals informed by community input that, if passed, would support the sustainable and equitable development of the cannabis industry in Illinois, ensure no one is further impacted by prohibition, and more.
The Coalition, alongside Equity and Transformation, and the Social Equity Empowerment Network, have come together to develop a legislative platform for the upcoming Veto Session. We have identified a short list of legislative items that will bring immediate positive effect to the current dispensary licensing situation, expand access to expungement & sealing, and ensure medical patients have access to a consistent supply of medicine.
We also list additional, long-term legislative goals on the second page that we plan to advocate for in future rounds of legislation.
Additional legislative items include:
- Expanded Expungement:
- Illinois should be providing record clearing relief to ALL people with cannabis offenses on their record.
- Automated record clearing should be prioritized, rather than requiring individuals to initiate this process themselves.
- Investment to impacted communities:
- Illinois’ R3 Program can be a model for future success, and must be fully funded and staffed, to ensure it is accessible to community organizations seeking funding for their programming.
- Cannabis tax revenue that currently goes to law enforcement, should be redistributed to social programs, including violence prevention, education, mental healthcare, and more.
- Promoting access to the industry:
- Cannabis business licensing must be expanded, to diversify the incredibly small existing industry.
- Cannabis growing licenses must be expanded, both in canopy size and quantity, to ensure Social Equity Applicants have a chance to chance to compete with Multi-State Operators.
- The DCEO loan program for entrepreneurs should be made into grants, to ensure entrepreneurs can access sustainable funding for their businesses.
- Any non-plant touching businesses, like social consumption lounges, home delivery apps, staffing companies, and more, must have access to technical assistance programs and financial support provided by IDFPR and DCEO, respectively.
- Application & licensing fees for impacted people should be waived for social equity applicants.
- Education not punishment:
- Any punitive penalties for cannabis, especially for minors, should be replaced with alternatives to criminalization, including education programs.
- The State of Illinois should adopt new education programming related to substances in its public school system. This programming must be rooted in evidence, with a focus on harm reduction. The State should seek to include in its curriculum the Drug Policy Alliance’s Safety First or Students for Sensible Drug Policy’s Just Say Know program.
The Cannabis Equity Illinois Coalition believes that if Illinois is going to address the injustices of prohibition, then everyone who has a criminal record for a cannabis offense should have their record cleared immediately.
We partner with legal aids organizations across the state to support record clearing, with greater emphasis in Chicagoland. You can also utilize online support through our partners.
The Coalition organizes events annually for National Expungement Week. You can learn more about our expungement organizing and advocacy in the Expungements page!
Know Your Rights
The Coalition recognizes the pressing need for communities to know their rights, and how they’ve been affected since legalization.
We partner with organizations like Legal Aid Chicago & Herbal Legal in hosting community events on Know Your Rights, and sharing important information.
We work with local creatives to develop multilingual Know Your Rights content online, so that all communities are able to access this crucial information. KYR content includes information about housing, immigration, employment, and more.
Please visit our Know Your Rights page for more information!
Community Benefits Agreement
As part of cannabis legalization, Illinois lawmakers allowed for the existing medical cannabis dispensary operators to open a “Plus-1” recreational dispensary. These existing operators, none of whom are led by individuals from impacted communities, are allowed to get a head start on expanding their businesses in Illinois, while new entrepreneurs are forced to wait.
To ensure that these companies, many of whom are multi-state operators, are doing their fair share to support communities impacted by prohibition, we started the #CannabisCBA campaign.
#CannabisCBA began in early 2020, when “Plus-1” dispensaries were seeking zoning approval from the Chicago City Council. The Coalition engaged each of the applicants for these licenses, requesting discussions about how to promote equity in their new stores.
The Coalition attended each and every community meeting that these proposed dispensaries hosted, to speak publicly about the need for a #CannabisCBA in Chicago. Throughout the months these meetings took place, we received lots of attention about our work, and gained many partners from all walks of life who wanted to support this work.
The Coalition continues to advocate for CBA’s to be signed by all the “Plus-1” dispensaries, to ensure that the economic success of this new store is tied to the economic development for communities impacted by prohibition.
Please visit our Community Benefits Agreement page for more details.