Rough 2022 for Illinois cannabis industry leads to higher hopes

There were hundreds of new licenses issued, long-running court fights were resolved, and cannabis derivatives like Delta-8 became popular. President Joe Biden called for a review of how marijuana is classified under federal law after pardoning federal marijuana possession convictions.

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There was a lack of funding that made it difficult for newcomers to break into the industry.

The black market continued to thrive despite the fact that most black and Latino entrepreneurs were shut out. Concerns about the connection between cannabis and psychosis were raised as efforts to change the laws failed.

There are signs that there will be changes in the new year, including lower prices and more stores.

The former state senator plans to open a dispensary in Chicago this spring. It would be difficult to not be. It was a tough year.

Some people lead the way.

After two years of delay, cannabis advocates were hopeful that the state would issue 343 new licenses by mid-2022.

Small startups that want to offer specialty strains and products similar to craft brewers can get craft growers' licenses.

Only a few of those businesses have begun cannabis operations.

Ivy Hall and Green Rose in Chicago and Altius in Round Lake Beach are the only new shops that opened this fall.

A former Chicago Public Schools teacher and military veteran is one of the co-founders of Ivy Hall. Dandridge has experience with the cannabis business in several states.

Ivy Hall is meant to be a cozier alternative to the more sterile dispensary of large multistate operators.

Dandridge wants to open more stores in the coming year in an effort to succeed where others have failed.

Dandridge told the Tribune in an email that access to capital is a critical ingredient of success, but also needs discipline, patience and to look where the opportunities are, which can all be done without investment. It is possible to succeed without selling equity if you work directly with local officials and zoning boards to revive a retail site that doesn't need a lot of improvements.

No money for start-ups.

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The capital market to fund cannabis has stopped. The value of cannabis stock has plummeted. The SAFE Act would have legalized banking for the cannabis industry.

Scott Redman, the founder of the Illinois Independent Craft Growers Association, compared wading through a swamp in 2022.

Craft growers are disappointed about where they are. Many of us are still a long way from opening.

People are scaling back to start small and make some money.

Redman's company won a license as a craft grower but dropped its plans to build a facility near Woodstock, and instead renovated an existing building He wants to start making extracts in the summer.

He said that regulators often make the opening more difficult by requiring upgrades, such as additional security cameras. The measures can be more strict than those for the pharmacy that sells narcotics.

Craft cannabis products should be on store shelves in the new year.

State officials in November announced a new $9 million forgivable cannabis loan program.

License holders said the previous state loan process was too slow and restrictive.

A new process is intended.

Diversity should be increased.

55 new dispensary licenses will be awarded this month. Hundreds of pages of detailed plans are eliminated in the new online application. The basic information it asks for is required of the winners.

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Changes are meant to make the industry more accessible to minorities. The medical marijuana industry needed huge startup costs and is almost entirely owned by white males.

People with low-level cannabis offenses are usually the ones targeted for new licenses.

The new rules do away with previous favoritism for veterans and eliminate applicants who are from areas that are politically connected from being hired.

Chris Slaby is a spokesman for the licensing agency. He said that the cannabis industry in Illinois will continue to strengthen as it becomes more inclusive.

What changes will be made ahead?

Since recreational marijuana was legalized in Illinois three years ago, sales have increased, but have leveled off.

Taxes can run as high as 41%, and that's what sellers blame for that. New derivatives of cannabis can get users high, even though federal lawmakers legalized it as a non-psychoactive version of cannabis.

The Cannabis Business Alliance of Illinois and a member of the McHenry County Board believe that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration needs to regulate more.

The agency failed to act for a long time.

The agency officials want more authority from Congress.

One solution would be to create a single regulatory agency for cannabis, similar to liquor and gambling, rather than splitting responsibilities among a half-dozen different agencies.

She said that we are one of the few states that don't have a commission for cannabis.

In other states, there is a push to limit the amount of pot that can reach 80% or higher. Critics of cannabis commercialization have warned of studies linking long-term and high-potency cannabis use to schizophrenia, depression and suicide.

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Legal cannabis is safer than buying it from the black market according to advocates.

The new year may bring changes that have been discussed for a while.

Home delivery may be the biggest change consumers would notice. Gov. J.B. Pritzker supports the idea if buyers prove they are over 21 at the store.

Since cannabis companies have their own vehicles to supply products from producers to retailers, the market for transportation license holders may be limited. There are multiple apparently illegal delivery services.

Increasing the size limit of craft growers from 5,000 square feet to 14,000 or more is being pushed by advocates.

The license holders want to be able to sell shares of ownership to raise capital or cash out.

The Illinois attorney general and the Department of Financial and Professional Regulation have taken a position that such sales are not allowed until a business gets its final license to operate. It is feared that wealthy white conglomerates will buy out minority investors.

That issue could be decided in court. The policy is being challenged.

The lack of transparency and shifting interpretations in regulation have driven away some investors, according to Edie Moore, co-founder of Chicago NORML and holder of licenses for several cannabis businesses that have yet to open.

She said that the status quo only benefits existing cannabis businesses and that a single agency is needed to provide clarity and consistency.

She called for allowing craft growers to share locations to cut costs.

She said the changes were small but mighty. "Make it understandable."

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How to get medical cannabis

The holiday season is all about spending time with family and friends. Your usual eating and fitness routines are likely to be disrupted. Do these four things to stay healthy during the holiday season.

1 You can manage your diet.

Don't try to sample everything in front of you. Keep portion sizes reasonable. Fresh fruits and vegetables, lean meats, and whole grains should be part of your diet.

2 Food guilt is not a good way to avoid it.

During the holidays, it is normal to eat desserts, cocktails, and snacks. You can enjoy the holiday foods and beverages you like.

3 Move up and down.

The benefits of exercise for the mind and body are well known. It lowers your risk of disease and helps with weight management. During the holidays, there are lots of fun ways to stay active.

4 Relax for a second.

Time should be set aside to replenish your batteries. If you have to entertain, the holidays can be tiring. Taking a bath, reading a novel, and listening to music are some of the ways to relax.

Schedule an appointment with your doctor if you are concerned about your health. Minor ailments and over-the-counter remedies can be treated with the help of a pharmacy.

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