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US (IL): Craft cannabis growers get much needed extension

Social equity craft growers get an extension to open, but financing their facilities is still a hurdle. Illinois’ craft cannabis industry looked bleak in January. People who’d secured licenses to grow their own products faced a looming March 1 deadline to open their businesses. The Illinois Department of Agriculture, which oversees craft grow licenses, said at the time there were no plans to extend the deadline again.

Now, the deadline for the first round of license winners is February 1, 2024, and December 1, 2024, for the second round. But problems remain with financing.

Think of craft cannabis like craft beer — unique products produced at a smaller scale. The state created craft grow licenses for smaller businesses, particularly run by Black and brown folks, to enter an industry that, up to now, has been dominated by a few major operators that have been around since the state allowed medical marijuana back in 2014. It was also seen as a way to make sure those most affected by past drug enforcement policies got a chance to make a living off of what is now a legal product.

But there have been several stumbling blocks, which Crystal Anderson knows something about. A nurse anesthetist by day, Anderson is working to open a craft grow facility in Kankakee and a dispensary in DeKalb. She so far hasn’t received operational approval for her growth, so the extension was a relief for her.


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