SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – Illinois lawmakers heard from advocates Friday on how to tackle racial disparities in the medical and recreational cannabis industries.

The committee discussed several pieces of legislation that could improve the state’s cannabis licensing system.

La Shawn Ford MP (D-Chicago) said minority business owners don’t always have the same opportunities. He said it was more difficult for minorities to obtain licenses than their white counterparts.

Governor JB Pritzker’s top cannabis advisor Toi Hutchinson said the government wants to change the way the industry looks to everyone.

“We’re all struggling to find out not if we should have principles of justice, but how much more we can do and how much more we can do it so more people can participate,” said Hutchinson. “We can actually do the things we said we wanted to do that changed the face of the industry. What are you doing with that money and how are you reversing past damage?”

Hutchinson said hearings with lawmakers are a great way to move forward.

Lawmakers noted that advocates have fought for these changes since the state legalized marijuana in 2020.

They hope to be able to file legislation soon to address diversity and ownership in the industry.