The process was designed to favor “social equity” applicants, including those who had been affected by past low-level marijuana convictions, or those who lived in poor, high-crime, mostly minority areas designated as those harmed most by the war on drugs.
But many applicants who qualified included wealthy and politically connected white investors who partnered with minorities, or who agreed to hire a majority of social equity workers. In addition, only those who had 51% or more ownership by military veterans got bonus points that earned perfect scores to qualify for the license lottery.
In response to lawsuits and complaints about the process, Pritzker agreed to give applicants a second chance to correct deficiencies in their applications, and to be rescored by contracted accounting firm KPMG. But that process has dragged out for months. Corrected applications were due this month, but officials still were in the process of reviewing them.
To address the debacle, Ford planned to introduce legislation this week to create 75 new licenses for the initial group of applicants. That round of applications, known as 1b, would create a minimum qualifying “cut” score, rather than having only perfect scores qualify, in effect doing away with the veteran ownership requirement.
Then, under Ford’s proposal, there would be a second round of new applications for another 75 licenses. That round would eliminate a clause that allows for those who hire social equity workers to qualify as social equity owners. The change is meant to ensure that more minority owners would qualify.