Illinois Governor Signs Cannabis Transport Bill, Halts New Licenses

The legislation also mandates a disparity study.

Illinois Governor JB Pritzker signed a bill into law Friday that waives annual licensing fees for existing cannabis transporters for three years and puts a hold on issuing new transporter licenses until 2027.

Senate Bill 1559, which received bipartisan support, aims to provide a competitive advantage to current small-scale cannabis transporters in Illinois’ growing legal cannabis market. The fee waiver, which goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2024, is seen as a relief measure for these businesses.

The bill also includes a pause on new cannabis transporter licenses, effective until January 2027. The decision, according to state officials, is intended to prevent market oversaturation and help smaller companies establish themselves.

In addition, the legislation mandates a disparity study by the Illinois Cannabis Regulation Oversight Office. The study is tasked with identifying potential discrimination in the industry and recommending changes to the licensing process to promote inclusivity.

Applications for cannabis business licenses will become available annually from Jan. 7 to March 15, starting in 2027, as per the new law.

After the bill’s passage last month, Pritzker said the legislation is a step toward ensuring equity in the state’s cannabis industry and supports small businesses integral to the market’s growth. The bill is part of broader efforts to address the impact of past drug laws on certain communities.

“The (multi)-year moratorium on new transporter licenses will allow the current, smaller independent transporters to secure contracts and grow their businesses,” Pritzker said in a Nov. 9 statement. “License holders will also have a (multi)-year holiday from paying annual fees to further aid these small businesses as the industry develops.”

Pritzker emphasized that the bill is “another step” in the state’s effort to right the wrongs wrought by the War on Drugs.

“Since day one of the fight for legalization, I have stressed that this accomplishment is meaningless without reinvestment and repair for the communities left behind by the war on drugs,” he said. “Small businesses, whether transporters, growers, or dispensaries, must be able to succeed if we wish to achieve that equity.”

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