A Black-owned marijuana dispensary is coming to Springfield.
Chicago businessmen Brian Scruggs and Kamau Murray of Herbal Quality Control LLC on Thursday were awarded a cannabis license by the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation to operate a recreational dispensary in Springfield.
The dispensary will be the first of three licenses coming to Sangamon and Menard counties as part of the state's three-round lottery, which has a renewed focus to award licenses to minorities and those with past marijuana-related convictions due to recent legislation.
"The outcome of the original scoring process prompted a reply that the results did not meet their original goal of social equity," said Pamela Althoff, executive director of the Cannabis Business Association of Illinois and former state senator.
"It was the entire reason why the State of Illinois had the additional lottery," Althoff said referring to a lack of licenses being awarded to those who were historically disenfranchised as a result of past marijuana laws. The drug became legal for recreational use in Illinois in 2020.
Earlier in July, Gov. JB Pritzker signed a bill into law that changes the state's grading system for cannabis licenses to better promote minority applicants. A study by the American Civil Liberties Union found that Black people were 7.5 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession in Illinois prior to the drug's legalization despite them using it at about the same rate as whites.
Herbal Quality Control was awarded one of 75 licenses announced on Thursday. Those license awards were delayed more than a year during the COVID-19 pandemic.
A total of 110 licenses will be awarded by the state in August, with two slated to go toward operations in Sangamon and/or Menard counties. Preference for those licenses will be given to "social-equity" applicants, per recent legislation.
Social-equity applicants include entrepreneurs from low-income neighborhoods or those who have or are directly related to those with past marijuana convictions.
"We look forward to ensuring an inclusive and equitable cannabis program whose makeup accurately reflects the diversity of our great state of Illinois," said IDFPR acting secretary Mario Treto Jr. in a news release.
Three additional licenses will be granted for a west-central Illinois region that includes the counties of Christian, Logan, Mason, Montgomery, Morgan and Schuyler with another three licenses going to a multi-county region of Illinois near St. Louis that includes Macoupin and Jersey counties.
It was announced on Thursday that licenses were awarded to Clean Slate OPCO LLC and Land of Lincoln Dispensary LLC to operate in Decatur and Bloomington, respectively.