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Those in Will County affected by war on drugs could see help becoming marijuana entrepreneurs

The state government released a map showing parts of Will County were disproportionately affected by the war on drugs, which could help those applying for a license to sell recreational marijuana.
The state government released a map showing parts of Will County were disproportionately affected by the war on drugs, which could help those applying for a license to sell recreational marijuana.

The state has designated parts of Will County as “disproportionately impacted” by the war on drugs, which could help local applicants seeking commercial marijuana licenses.

Gov. JB Pritzker’s administration released a map of the state this week showing the areas where the state wants to provide opportunities for applicants to benefit from the legalized recreational marijuana industry. The map shows large parts of Joliet, along with smaller parts of Crest Hill, Lockport, Bolingbrook and University Park, as designated areas.

If an applicant for a commercial marijuana license comes from one of these areas, the state would use that as a significant factor in deciding whether to grant them a license. The state says this is part of what makes the law the “most equity-centric adult-use cannabis program in the nation,” according to a news release.

“As Illinois continues its path toward putting equity at the forefront of the state’s new adult-use cannabis expansion, it’s important to create opportunities in communities that have been hardest hit by the war on marijuana,” Pritzker said in the release.

The Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity determined the disproportionately affected areas using criteria established in the new state law. To qualify as a disproportionately impacted area, a census tract must have a high rate of marijuana-related arrests, convictions and incarcerations, among other qualifications, such as poverty and unemployment.

To qualify as a social equity applicant, the law requires Illinois residency and one of the following criteria:

• At least 51% ownership and control by one or more individuals who have resided at least five of the preceding 10 years in an impacted area.

• At least 51% ownership and control by one or more individuals, or a family member of an individual, who have been arrested for, convicted of or adjudicated delinquent for an offense that is eligible for expungement under the marijuana legalization law.

• Applicants with at least 10 full-time employees, at least 51% of whom reside in an impacted area or have been arrested, convicted of or adjudicated delinquent for a marijuana offense that is eligible for expungement or is a member of an impacted family.

The application for a license to become a conditional adult-use dispensing organization opened Tuesday. The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation will accept applications from Dec. 10 through Jan. 2 and will issue up to 75 licenses by May 1.

Recreational use of marijuana by adults age 21 and older will be legal in Illinois on Jan. 1.

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