Illinois stood to become a model for diversifying the marijuana industry in other states when it legalized the drug last year. So far, its success is half-baked. As the first state Legislature to legalize recreational cannabis sales after others approved it by ballot measure, Illinois crafted what it hopes will be a national template for how to atone for the war on drugs while also generating new revenue. It’s on pace to pull in $1.3 billion in weed sales this year, roughly double what it got in 2020, and thousands of marijuana-related criminal convictions have been wiped clean. But Illinois’ effort to diversify the lucrative industry away from established white-owned businesses has stumbled several times over the past two years. It’s created a sore spot for the state that’s attracted a steady barrage of lawsuits over the lottery system built to seed scores of new small businesses owned by minorities, women, and veterans.

Mona Zhang, Politics, Policy, Political News – POLITICO, 09/17/2021 20:00:00

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