The initial adult use cannabis industry began as a transition of medical cannabis companies into the adult use marketplace on January 1, 2020. Those initial businesses were 100% majority White owned and with only one majority woman-owned business. Note that even the initial cannabis businesses were complicated: one business was operated by a nonprofit and several others were publicly traded companies with the majority of their equity owned and traded on Canadian stock exchanges. In 2021 and into 2022, the State issued new licenses under the Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act (CRTA) to Social Equity Applicants. These new Social Equity businesses are extremely diverse—roughly two-thirds of the new licenses are owned by Black, Latino/a, and other groups of people. When surveyed by Cannabis Regulation Oversight Officer (CROO) at the end of 2021:
- 25% of the firms had the majority of their equity held by Black owners
- 5% were held by Latino/a owners
- 14% were held by a coalition of various non-White owners where no one racial group held 51%
- 2% were held by other non-White owners
- 31% did not identify a significant share of their ownership
- 12% of the firms had the majority of their equity held by women
These majority-owned firms describe the corporate ownership of the cannabis industry. One firm may own multiple licenses. One firm may be owned by one person or by a large coalition of people. Some firms have significant number of investment companies holding equity, particularly the publicly traded companies.
The CROO Diversity Survey also asked about the people within the firm structures. The industry demographics of the people are listed below.
The 2021 Diversity Report is the second demographic survey issued and analyzed by the Cannabis Regulation Oversight Officer. The survey was sent to cannabis firms, which reported on the diversity of their owners, directors, and C-Suite executives, and to cannabis employees that work at such firms. The report highlights the changes since the 2020 Diversity Report, particularly with substantial increases in non-white ownership—a direct result of the additional licenses issued under the Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act—as compared to the original 2020 baseline as Illinois continues to diversify in this growing industry.
The 2020 Diversity Report was a steppingstone in evaluating race in the market, serving as a baseline as Illinois works to achieve equity and diversity in this growing industry. The 2020 Diversity Survey is a summary of relevant market data as of February 2021.