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Illinois House Passes Legislation That Would Give Minority Entrepreneurs Better Shot At Entering Cannabis Business

CHICAGO (CBS)> -- Minority entrepreneurs may soon have a better shot at getting into the marijuana industry, thanks to legislation that just passed the Illinois House of Representatives.

HB 1443 creates more than 100 new pot shop licenses, and gives people of color a fair shot at winning them during the lottery process.

It was introduced by state Rep. LaShawn Ford (D-Chicago).

CBS 2's Tara Molina reported last month that as the state continued to rake in millions, not one minority-owned pot business had opened up shop yet because of state delays.

The state is running almost a year behind on those new licenses, and those delays continue – with the state's social equity plan still a work in progress more than a year into legalization.

Gov. JB Pritzker applauded the House proposal.

"As a state that values making our laws reflective of our diverse communities, we must ensure that social justice is at the center of everything we do — and today, that means building upon our work of passing the most equity-centric cannabis law in the nation," Pritzker said in a news release. "By authorizing additional lotteries that are focused on social equity applicants, we're ensuring that communities that have been left out and left behind have new opportunities to access the cannabis industry. This legislation further ensures those least likely to have already had a foot in this industry will see a bigger piece of the pie. I want to thank Representative La Shawn K. Ford, all of the cosponsors and the many advocates for seeing this legislation through the House. I look forward to the Senate's support in this step toward the Illinois our residents deserve."

The legislation now goes to the state Senate.

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