* Sun-Times on the cannabis legalization bill…
Under the legislation, which is being backed by Gov. J.B. Pritzker, misdemeanor pot convictions would be expunged, people with cannabis convictions would be allowed to work in the industry and diversity hiring goals would be set for firms in the industry.
Additionally, [sponsoring Rep. Kelly Cassidy, D-Chicago] said, the legislation would provide support for minority-owned businesses by offering technical assistance, as well as access to capital, loans and relief from fees that have posed a barrier to entry for smaller businesses. To further crack that barrier, the measure would also create new cannabis licensing categories for “craft” grow operations and companies that process and transport the drug.
“I’ve said for a long time that other states that have tried this have tended to try with a solution, but that presumes there’s a singular barrier to minority engagement in the industry,” Cassidy said. “And that’s simply not the case. These conversations have been about the best way to set up sort of a buffet of responses to the array of problems.” […]
“The proposal that I’ve seen has some really good language in it and now it’s just the part of fine-tuning and making sure that advocates remain in support and removing as much opposition as you can,” said [Sen. Kimberly Lightford, D-Maywood, the chair of the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus], who couldn’t say whether any members of the black caucus are opposed to the legalization plan.
Concerns center on ensuring that minority business owners have a stake in the industry and making sure new money generated is channeled to communities that have historically suffered from the impact of drug abuse. Another flashpoint in the process is potentially expunging criminal records for offenders found guilty of possessing or selling marijuana prior to legalization. These are largely the same issues that tanked New Jersey’s plan last month to approve recreational marijuana, and that New York lawmakers are still debating. […]
The Black Caucus is in regular discussions with the governor’s office and lawmakers carrying the measure. “We’d like to create model legislation for the nation,” [Sen. Elgie Sims, D-Chicago] said. “We want the strongest social equity program in the country and to be the most progressive on criminal justice reform issues.”
State Rep. Kelly Cassidy tells POLITICO that the concerns of the Black Caucus “have been part of our discussion from day one.” The Chicago Democrat is pressing legalization in the Assembly while state Sen. Heather Steans (D-Chicago) pushes for it in other chamber. Cassidy says that nationwide, the recreational marijuana industry is only 4 percent minority-held. “No state has gotten this right so far. We want to get it right.”
* Jaclyn Driscoll…
As political negotiations on recreational marijuana continue, one prominent group, has not yet taken a stance: the Legislative Black Caucus. These are the African-American lawmakers in the Illinois House and Senate.
They are involved in the talks, though, according to state Rep. Jehan Gordon-Booth, a Peoria Democrat and leader in the caucus.
“Any adult-use bill has to have specific consideration as it relates to restoring some of the harm that was done during the war on drugs to communities of color,” she said. “There should be ownership of people of color in this space.” […]
“We don’t want an adult-use program to look like the medical program which essentially is completely and wholly owned by rich people and none of them are people of color,” Gordon-Booth said.
* More from Driscoll…
Reporter: I understand this is a massive piece of legislation, but if there was one goal in passing recreational cannabis, what is it?
Cassidy: I’ve said this before. I want to pass the gold standard for cannabis legislation that the rest of the country can follow. That means a model that taxes at a level that allows the industry to grow, that allows patients and users access in a way that gets them into the legal markets, that creates an industry and allows an industry to grow that looks like the state of Illinois, that looks like communties we come from.
Lots more in that interview, including home-grow info, so click here.
* Can it pass?…
“This is a nearly 300 page pieces of legislation,” said Rep. Kelly Cassidy, D-Chicago, who has been working on the issue for more than two years. “We want to make sure we’ve dotted all of the “I’s” and crossed all of the “t’s”.
There are potential hang-ups as the bill works its way through the legislature. Rep. Martin Moylan, D-Des Plaines, is sponsoring a resolution co-signed by 59 other House members of both parties to slow down the process of legalization. Cassidy scoffs at the need to slow down the process.
“This has been the most deliberative process I’ve seen on anything this big,” Cassidy said. “Sen. (Heather) Steans and I have been working on this for over two years. Dozens of town halls, multiple public hearings, hundreds of stakeholder meetings. There’s nothing rushed about this.” […]
“I think in the House, (legalization) is going to garner serious opposition,” [Rep. Tim Butler, R-Springfield] said. “I think it is going to be very difficult to get 60 votes in the House right now.”
* Leader Harris disagrees…
House Majority Leader Gregory Harris of Chicago said he thinks a legalization bill has enough support to pass.
“I’m told it does. I’m not counting votes on it, understanding this is a topic where there can be strong opinions on both sides,” he said. “I think members are going to be very carefully taking the temperature of their district. But if you look around the country, this is where the trend is going.”
* And Rep. Moylan’s blatant insult of his colleagues isn’t doing his cause any good…
“The proponents are trying to pull a con game on the state of Illinois,” [Rep. Marty Moylan, D-Des Plaines] said Thursday. “I have almost more than 60 people who’ve signed on is because nobody else’s talking about what the harmful effects are.” Moylan said he’s been talking to nurses and law enforcement officials “on the ground” in states that have legalized recreational use to help gather information.
* Analysis: How legal recreational marijuana works in other states