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Cannabis & Regulating Social Equity

Level: Advanced
Runtime: 92 minutes
Recorded Date: July 22, 2020
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  • Illinois Cannabis Regulation 
  • Comparative Analysis of Social Equity Provisions in Adult Use Cannabis Licensing
  • Protections and Limitations on Transfer of Interest in Licenses
Runtime: 1 hour, 32 minutes
Recorded: July 22, 2020


Illinois legalized recreational cannabis in 2019 and issued licenses in 2020. Illinois' legislation is unique in that social equity was central to its creation. The legislation's goal is to encourage the participation of those who were disproportionately and negatively impacted by cannabis prohibition. Throughout the law there are requirements to give social equity businesses and employees priority over others. However, the first businesses that were prepared and licensed to operate in Illinois were existing medical cannabis dispensaries, who were awarded their licenses without a social equity component to their business.

The legislation remedies this by leveraging their success and earmarking revenue from those operations to fund social equity applications and provide access to capital for new small businesses which would otherwise be shut out of the industry because of federal lending prohibitions. This legislation is being applauded as being an example of how lawmakers can incorporate social goals in fair and equitable way, in addition we will discuss similar provisions in other state laws. We aim to discuss how the legislation of social equity can be done lawfully, how successful the efforts have been in achieving inclusion of communities of color in the industry, and what we can incorporate from this elsewhere to remedy historic injustices against communities of color.

This program was recorded on July 22nd, 2020.

Provided By

American Bar Association
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Donna J. Pugh

Foley & Lardner, LLP

Donna J. Pugh is a partner and real estate business lawyer with Foley & Lardner LLP where she focuses on obtaining land use and zoning entitlements on behalf of her retail, office, residential, health care and corporate clients. With her approach of bridging the gap between client, civic and municipal needs, Donna has an exceptionally high success rate of securing necessary approvals for land development projects in the Chicago area. She is a member of the firm’s Real Estate Practice.

A consensus builder, Donna works to unite institutional property owners, elected officials and community groups to achieve approvals that maximize flexibility of future land use and benefit all involved stakeholders.

Donna’s client list is extensive, including many high-profile land development projects, such as obtaining zoning approvals for the 960,000-square-foot United Center, home to Chicago Bulls and Chicago Blackhawks, and new practice facilities for both teams. She obtained approvals for Magnificent Mile shopping centers including Water Tower Place 900 North Michigan, and The Shops at North Bridge. She also obtained all zoning approvals for the original redevelopment (1994) and subsequent redevelopments of the 1.6 million square foot legacy mall Westfield Old Orchard in Skokie, IL.

Geographically, although Donna focuses her land use practice in Chicago, Cook County, DuPage County, and Will County, she has experience handling and advising on national land use matters.

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Ben Stearns

Carlton Fields, P.A.

Benjamin Stearns’ practice focuses on regulated industries, primarily medical marijuana and property and casualty insurance. Benjamin works with state regulators to resolve compliance matters and negotiate enforcement actions. He also lobbies the Florida Legislature and has testified before legislative committees.

In addition, Benjamin litigates insurance coverage matters and contests of government contract awards. He represented the state of Florida in an original action against Georgia in the U.S. Supreme Court over the apportionment of the waters in the Chattahoochee-Flint-Apalachicola river system.

Prior to joining Carlton Fields, Benjamin was an attorney for the Florida Senate where he drafted legislation, advised state senators, and developed an understanding of the legislative process. His background in journalism and previous work for a Miami public relations agency refined his ability to advocate on behalf of clients.

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Jamil Taylor

Alpine Capital Group, LLC

Jamil Taylor is a Co-Founder and Partner at Alpine Capital Group, LLC ("ACG"). ACG is a real estate investment company that focuses on improving urban communities through residential renovation projects. His responsibilities include identification, evaluation, capital raising and management of real estate investments.

Prior co-founding Alpine Capital Group, Jamil served as a Partner at VCap Investment Group ("VCAP"), where he identified, evaluated and executed transactions across many platforms. Jamil has expertise on multiple sides of various transactions including sell-side, buy-side and fund management experience. He has industry expertise in consumer, manufacturing, distribution, business services and residential real estate.

Prior to joining VCAP, Jamil worked as an Associate at LaSalle Capital Group (“LaSalle”), a lower-middle market private equity fund with $330 million in assets under management. Jamil’s duties included sourcing, evaluating and executing leveraged buyout and growth equity investment opportunities. While at LaSalle, Jamil worked on multiple platform acquisitions as well as a number of add-on acquisitions and debt / equity restructurings within various industry groups.

Prior to LaSalle, Jamil worked as an Investment Banking Analyst at BMO Capital Markets in Chicago, where he focused on Food, Consumer & Retail mergers and acquisitions as well as debt and equity financing.

Jamil received his Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration with a concentration in Finance from Morehouse College.

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Toi Hutchinson

State Senator, Illinois 40th District
Illinois State Senate

Toi W. Hutchinson is a former Democratic member of the Illinois State Senate, representing District 40. She was first appointed to the chamber on January 5, 2009.[1] Hutchinson resigned effective November 4, 2019, after Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) appointed her as Senior Adviser to the Governor on Cannabis Control.

Toi Hutchinson is a former Senator in the Illinois General Assembly, having represented the 40th District. She was born on May 20, 1973, graduated with a bachelor's degree in English from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana, and a law degree from Northers Illinois University in 2014. Hutchinson has been involved with the Harvard Kennedy School of Government executive management program, was a 2012 Edgar Fellow at the University of Illinois, and is the former chair of the Senate Revenue Committee.

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