Residents living in designated areas of Ottawa and La Salle may get state help if they choose to open a recreational marijuana business.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s administration released a map of Illinois this week showing the areas where the state wants to provide opportunities for applicants to benefit from the legalized recreational marijuana industry.
The Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity determined disproportionately affected areas using criteria established in the new state law. To qualify as a disproportionately impacted area, a census tract must have high rates of arrest, conviction and incarceration related to marijuana, among other qualifications, including poverty, citizens qualifying for food assistance benefits and unemployment.
Areas of La Salle and Ottawa were the lone locations highlighted in La Salle County. The area in Ottawa includes most of the city north of Norris Drive to Interstate 80. In La Salle, the area includes the downtown and the neighborhood to its east and northeast.
If an applicant for a commercial marijuana license comes from one of these areas, the state would use that as a significant factor in deciding whether to grant them a license.
The state also may help the applicant with technical assistance and support on everything from putting together a business plan to applying for a license, additional points on their applications for a license to operate a cannabis business, as well as an opportunity to apply for a low-interest loan from the state.
To qualify as a social equity applicant, the law requires Illinois residency and one of the following criteria:
- At least 51% ownership and control by one or more individuals who have resided at least five of the preceding 10 years in an impacted area.
- At least 51% ownership and control by one or more individuals, or a family member of an individual, who have been arrested for, convicted of or adjudicated delinquent for an offense that is eligible for expungement under the marijuana legalization law.
- Applicants with at least 10 full-time employees, at least 51% of whom reside in an impacted area or have been arrested, convicted of or adjudicated delinquent for a marijuana offense that is eligible for expungement or is a member of an impacted family.
The application for a license to become a conditional adult use dispensing organization opened Tuesday.
The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation will accept applications from Tuesday, Dec. 10 through Thursday, Jan. 2, and will issue up to 75 licenses by May 1.
Recreational use of marijuana is legal in Illinois beginning Jan. 1.
— Shaw Media’s Alex Ortiz contributed to this report.