Governor’s team to meet to address complaints about marijuana licensing process in Illinois

Amid a flurry of complaints that the marijuana licensing process is broken, Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s office announced Wednesday that his team will meet with those affected to address the issue.

“The Governor’s office is currently working to schedule meetings with interested stakeholders, however, meeting dates and times have not been finalized,” Pritzker’s press office wrote in response to a Tribune inquiry. “The goal of the Governor and the administration is to take time to ensure that the process is fair and equitable. We remain committed to taking our time to focus on fairness before a lottery date is announced by (the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation).”

Just 21 of some 700 applicants qualified for a lottery to determine who will get 75 new recreational marijuana retail licenses. Since the finalists were revealed early this month, state regulators said they have indefinitely delayed the lottery to review objections.

State Rep. La Shawn Ford said the governor’s office will meet with lawmakers, including members of the Black and Latino caucuses who have objected to the licensing process. Many of the finalist companies involve politically connected or big-money businessmen, including former Chicago police Superintendent Terrence Hillard, and restaurant owner Phil Stefani, which critics say flies in the face of the program’s goal of adding minority newcomers to the largely white-owned industry. [Read more at Chicago Tribune]