Cannabis Social Equity in Illinois: Where This Emerging State Went Wrong

 

 

Over the last several months, Illinois seemed as though it were becoming a paragon of legal cannabis and social equity within the industry. Unfortunately, a complete lack of transparency and communication has left many cannabusiness owners down and out.

Higher Yields Consulting Social Equity in Illinois: Where This Emerging State Went Wrong

 

 

Although this situation will inevitably turn into a lengthy legal battle, it isn’t all bad. The mistakes made in Illinois expose where social equity programs fall short. As a result, other states can learn from these mistakes and implement more successful programs in the future.

 

Here’s everything you need to know about the straight-up blunder that’s happened in Illinois and how you can recover if you’ve been affected.

 

Social Equity Programs Looked Bright in Illinois

Ideally, we wouldn’t have to discuss this issue — better yet, we’d be talking about how successful Illinois’ program was. Instead, we’re forced to focus on where it all went wrong. But if you’re still curious to know what a best-case scenario would’ve looked like, we’ve got you covered.

 

In a perfect world, all applicants would have submitted their applications to be independently scored by a private entity — in this case, KPMG International. KPMG would have blindly reviewed all submissions and sent “Notices of Deficiency” informing applicants of any operational changes they needed to make in order to be approved.

 

By showing social equity candidates exactly what to fix, this process would have leveled the playing field for them. In fact, one-fifth of the application consisted of questions designed to determine social equity status and give an inherent boost to such applicants.

 

Once the approval process had been completed, all successful applicants would have been entered into a random lottery. Subsequently, 75 dispensary licenses would have been promptly awarded.

 

Unfortunately, we don’t live in a perfect world, and that’s not at all what really happened in Illinois.

 

Applicants Pay the Price for a Grossly Mishandled Process

Illinois’ social equity program should have been transparent and successful. Rather, the entire process has turned into an opaque, suspicious fiasco for which applicants have paid the price.

 

KPMG was awarded a $4.2 million no-bid contract by Illinois to score social equity applications. In another exclusive deal, KPMG was awarded $2.5 million to score an additional 80 agricultural applications. The contract required applications to be scored anonymously as well as Notices of Deficiency to be sent to all unapproved applicants.

 

However, the majority of unapproved applicants didn’t receive their Notice of Deficiency. Moreover, the ones who did receive a notice received it directly from KPMG. This means that KPMG had access to the identities of all applicants and that the process couldn’t possibly have been carried out blindly.

 

In the end, only 21 out of more than 900 applicants were entered into this 75-license lottery. Many of these 21 applicants represent large, multi-state operations rather than social equity candidates for whom this process was intended.

 

To make matters worse, one of the 21 approved applicants is an employee of KPMG. 

 

We may not yet understand how this fits into the whole narrative, but we do know that it’s a blatant conflict of interest. Furthermore, the lack of anonymity in the scoring process raises some serious questions about how this applicant was approved when hundreds of others were not.

 

All Is Not Lost for Social Equity in Cannabis

In the face of this debacle, all is not lost. Luckily, there’s still hope for social equity candidates both in Illinois and around the country. Politicians, local governments, and affected applicants all have the power to improve their own situations as well as those of their communities.

 

 

What Political Candidates Can Do

For political candidates running on the platform of legalizing cannabis, it’s crucial to know what you’re getting into. The legal cannabis industry isn’t as easy as it looks. Doing it right is incredibly difficult, but that’s how it must be done. If you’re running on this platform, look for experienced consultants to help you do so.

 

What Local Governments Can Do

Local governments can make or break cannabis programs. In order to ensure the success of legalization and social equity efforts, governments should work with organizations that are involved and experienced in the cannabis industry. 

 

For instance, here at Higher Yields Cannabis Consulting, we’ve built an elite team of experienced cannabis professionals. Just take a look at Erik Range, our DEI Engineer and Minority Cannabis Consultant!

 

What Affected Cannabusinesses Can Do

For anyone affected by the social equity program in Illinois, we understand that this is a stressful time for you and your colleagues. We’re here to help. At Higher Yields Cannabis Consulting, we have a team of experts who will help your cannabusiness get back on its feet. Ask us about our Pivot Program designed specifically for cannabis businesses who have been affected by lost license applications and changing policies. 

 

Contact us today to schedule a free consultation today and learn more about how we can help.

Cannabis Legalization & Post-Pandemic Emerging States

At Higher Yields Cannabis Consulting, we like to keep you up to date on cannabis legalization efforts around the United States. In the midst of a pandemic, cannabis legislation has changed dramatically. For some states this change is progress, but for others, it’s a kneecapping loss of momentum. Here’s everything you need to know about emerging states with 420-friendly legislation on the horizon.

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Green Growing: Maximizing Energy Efficiency to Improve Your Cannabusiness

The world as we know it is changing, and energy has become a precious and increasingly scarce resource. In order to stay profitable, cannabusinesses must look to cut back on energy use wherever possible. Green growing presents a solution that’s both easy on the environment and on your wallet.

Higher Yields Consulting: Green Growing: Maximizing Energy Efficiency to Improve Your Cannabusiness

Designing your grows to be energy efficient rewards your business in the long run. Less energy and higher quality plants mean more cash in your pocket at the end of the quarter.

Here’s how your cannabusiness can get started growing green.

The Benefits of Green Growing

Today, one of the easiest and most popular ways to boost energy efficiency is to make the switch to LED lighting. These energy-efficient lighting systems use at least 75% less energy and last about 25 times longer than traditional incandescent lighting. LEDs are the premier lighting option for conserving energy as well as cash.

Although energy-efficient lighting is crucial for designing green grows, it’s not the only important factor. Quality HVAC systems also play a significant role in cutting energy costs and improving the quality of your plants.

For a typical indoor grow, venting, cooling, and dehumidification account for more than 50% of all energy needs. HVAC systems are crucial to successful cannabusinesses, but they can get expensive quickly. Opting for more energy-efficient HVAC systems and processes can save you quite a bit of money and help create the best environment for growing the best cannabis.

Many cutting-edge HVAC systems take out much of the uncertainty and risk associated with growing cannabis. These modern systems give growers stability and peace of mind by allowing them to monitor and control HVAC operations from a mobile app. Being able to tap into the system and make adjustments at any time takes some of the stress out of growing and results in fewer hiccups along the way.

Green growing isn’t just a one-and-done sort of deal. Instead, it’s an ongoing process of constant improvement — similar to the Japanese philosophy of kaizen. Over time, technology will change and get better. When it does, your operation will be ready to adapt and improve with ease.

Green growing is a profitable endeavor for any cannabusiness, but lower energy bills and higher quality plants aren’t the only benefits. In fact, preserving the environment is the most rewarding benefit of all. A healthy planet ensures that customers can enjoy your cannabis for years to come.

How to Start Growing Green

Every grow is different, so no two designs will be exactly the same. However, at Higher Yields Cannabis Consulting we have a formula for developing green operations that fit your current situation and easily allow for growth in the future.

The most important aspect of making your operation more efficient is understanding your environment. Understand the strengths and risks of each location. Capitalize on the strengths and make the risks less risky to ensure the environment helps your operation instead of hurting it.

For example, we’re working on a project in Jamaica where we’d like to take advantage of the abundant natural light. However, inclement weather and power outages are also common in the region, so we have to make the operation strong and self-reliant in terms of power. Furthermore, we can’t prevent hurricanes, but additional insurance coverage provides comforting security in the event of a disaster.

Maintaining operational and design flexibility also plays a huge role in green growing. We’re currently in the middle of a pandemic and resources are scarce. For the sake of getting your cannabusiness up and running quickly, it might be necessary to adjust efficiency goals to be more realistic. Once high-quality materials are available again, then you can update and improve your operation.

Higher Yields Consulting: Green Growing: Maximizing Energy Efficiency to Improve Your Cannabusiness

At the end of the day, we as cannabis producers are making a consumable product. If someone gets sick, it’s on us, so we have to take great care in the design and development of our facilities. While some buildings (like a factory or mechanic’s shop)  can easily be converted, others (like an old barn) simply can’t serve as a growth facility.

However, with enough time, money, and effort, any cannabusiness can be growing profitably and sustainably.

Is Green Growing Right for Your Cannabusiness?

Amidst a changing climate, it’s becoming more expensive to grow cannabis. While cannabis has the power to help people — like it helped me stop drinking — it can only do so if the industry remains financially and ecologically viable. Developing energy-efficient grows will ease the environmental burden as well as the financial one.

Unfortunately, green growing is not as easy as it looks. If it were, everyone would already be doing it. In order for your business to develop and employ the proper design, you need a team of informed and experienced experts who know the science. Luckily, we have just the team.

Book a free consultation today and learn how your business can thrive with green growing.