A good news for all those people who have been negatively impacted by the war on drugs as from now on, they can apply for $21 million in taxpayer-funded low-interest loans from the state to get started in the cannabis industry.
The Cannabis Business Development Fund is created by the state’s cannabis legalization law. The fund will make low-interest loans available for qualifying applicants. The funds come from the licensing fees paid by existing dispensaries and cultivators.
“The program has gotten attention around the world and as far away as New Zealand to talk about what Illinois did, because every equity program … usually fails when there’s no capital invested behind it,” said the governor’s cannabis control person, Toi Hutchinson.
State lawmakers said the law was designed for a smooth rollout and equitable opportunities in the industry, which has so far been dominated by wealthy white men. The first $21 million in loans being announced this week is among a series of policies included in the state’s recreational cannabis law.
One of the initial phases of the rollout was getting existing medical cannabis growers and retailers licensed to begin selling recreational cannabis on Jan. 1.
In order to get a state loan, eligible applicants must have been arrested for cannabis, or have a parent, child or spouse who has a cannabis conviction. Other than this, all those people who hails from areas with high number of cannabis-related arrests can also apply.
Not only this, businesses with more than 10 full-time employees if half of those employees come from areas disproportionately impacted by the war on drugs or who have previous cannabis convictions can also apply. Businesses at least 51 percent owned or controlled by one or more eligible people can also go for it.
State officials are expecting the fund to eventually exceed $30 million.
“The loan program was just one aspect of how the recreational cannabis law will help reverse some of the harms from the war on drugs,” Hutchinson said.