Illinois’ cannabis industry just got a little more diverse and a little more creative. The state has awarded 48 cultivation licenses to craft cannabis growers. And, according to officials, 100% of the licenses are going to social equity winners.
Willie “J.R.” Fleming, the founder of the nonprofit Hemp for Hoods, won three licenses for cultivation, transportation and partner with an infusion. Initially, his applications were rejected. That is, until House Bill 1443 was passed in 2021 to expand business opportunities for people who were most impacted by the war on drugs. Fleming had served time in jail for a marijuana arrest years ago.
Rep. La Shawn Ford (D-Chicago) was one of the co-sponsors of HB1433. “The real, long-term goal of cannabis legalization was never about licenses. It was about healing communities devastated by a racist War on Drugs,” said Ford. “Now, the real work begins. We must ensure that these fledgling businesses have the resources to compete with folks who’ve been in business for years.”
Both Fleming and Ford join “Chicago Tonight.”