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Illinois Offers Millions in Forgivable Loans for Cannabis Licensees

The Cannabis Social Equity Loan Program is a first-of-its-kind program that launched in the summer of 2021.

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Governor JB Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) today announced that $8.75 million in Direct Forgivable Loans fully financed by the State will be made available to all conditionally-approved social equity loan applicants in order to provide immediate access to capital.

Pending the completion of a simplified documentation process, forgivable loan amounts between $50,000-$500,000 will be released immediately.

“Equity has always been at the core of our cannabis legalization process. It’s why we expunged hundreds of thousands low-level cannabis charges and instituted the Cannabis Social Equity Loan Program. But I know that if we want to create a truly equitable cannabis industry in Illinois, we must give our business owners the resources they need to grow—both figuratively and literally,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “That’s why we are launching this Direct Forgivable Loan Program to provide a much-needed jumpstart for social equity applicants who’ve faced hurdles in pursuit of capital funding. This $8.75 million will help our social equity licensees open their doors for business—a major step towards creating a prosperous cannabis industry here in Illinois.”

The Cannabis Social Equity Loan Program is a first-of-its-kind program that launched in the summer of 2021 with the goal of providing low-interest loans to social equity licensees through a partnership with lending institutions.

Program participants have encountered significant delays in receiving capital through financial institutions due to the complexities of navigating a new industry that remains illegal under federal law, as well as institutions’ fiduciary, regulatory responsibilities and underwriting standards that are set independent of the program. In response to feedback from participants, and out of an unwavering commitment to increasing equity in the cannabis industry, DCEO’s new Direct Forgivable Loan Program will make funding from the state available to all eligible program participants regardless of their original loan application status with a lending partner. Interested participants can continue to pursue funding through the original loan program, while also receiving the new Direct Forgivable Loan.

“In Illinois, we are striving to create an ecosystem for cannabis entrepreneurs that prioritizes those who have been adversely impacted by the war on drugs,” said Lt. Governor Juliana Stratton. “The creation of the Direct Forgivable Loan Program is a critical step in that mission. We are forging ahead to support social equity licensees' businesses so that Illinoisans can thrive alongside this growing industry."

A total of $8.75 million will be available through the new Direct Forgivable Loan Program. The following loan amounts are available per participant based on the business type:

  • Craft Growers: $500,000
  • Infusers: $250,000
  • Transporters: $50,000