Marijuana business licensees in Illinois seek changes in ownership rules

Roughly 200 marijuana operators signed a petition asking Illinois regulators to alter a policy that prohibits adult-use store owners with conditional licenses from selling equity in their businesses until they are eligible to begin retail sales.

The business owners who signed the petition complain that the state’s policy prevents them from selling shares of their business to investors as a way to raise capital, the Chicago Tribune reported.

The petition was started by Chicago NORML.

Edie Moore, co-founder of Chicago NORML and a conditional license holder, told the Tribune that cannabis business owners need capital the most when they are in the conditional phase and trying to get their businesses open.

Before they can open, the Tribune noted, conditional license holders are mandated to:

  • Find store sites.
  • Get approval for the sites.
  • Pay a licensing fee.
  • Pass inspections.
  • Meet other costly requirements.

The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation crafted the policy in question ostensibly to prevent minority cannabis business owners from selling their licenses to larger, non-minority owned business.

Illinois has sought to boost minority ownership of marijuana businesses in the state and, to that end, issued more than 180 conditional retail licenses this summer to social equity applicants.

Social equity applicants are those with past minor cannabis convictions or who come from areas with levels of poverty or marijuana arrests.