As the prospect of nationwide legalization continues to grow, companies such as Green Thumb Industries (CSE: GTII; OTCQX: GTII) are preparing for a larger market with new startups by getting involved in equity programs. 

While Canadian legislation allowed pardons for previous cannabis convictions, marijuana remaining illegal at the federal level in the U.S. results in restitution efforts varying wildly state by state. 

In an effort to assist those who would otherwise be barred from entering the legalized cannabis industry, Green Thumb is gearing up to launch the Illinois Social Equity License Application Assistance Program. 

Through the new program, Green Thumb will begin hosting office hours in Chicago for consultations beginning next week. Those pro bono consultations will offer advice to social equity applicants on acquiring waivers for licensing fees, selecting locations for cultivation sites and dispensaries, and applying for low interest loans. 

Noting that the company has a broad knowledge on acquiring licensing that can be shared with the industry at large, Green Thumb’s SVP of Government and Regulatory Affairs Dina Rollman commented: 

We believe it is part of our corporate responsibility to reduce barriers to cannabis business ownership for minorities and others impacted by the war on drugs. Our program provides guidance to those looking to enter this highly competitive industry and we look forward to serving as a resource to applicants that qualify as Illinois Social Equity Applicants.

The statewide social equity program is currently open to any Illinois residents with majority ownership in a cannabis business who were convicted of cannabis related crimes or who reside in an area designated as disproportionately impacted by prohibition. 

Aside from home base operations in Illinois, Green Thumb has spent the past year focusing on rapid multi-state expansion in Florida, Massachusetts, Ohio, and New York.  

Those former three states have seen multiple Rise-branded stores opening in the recent months, bumping the company’s total number of retail storefront locations up to 28 as of the end of August. 

Most recently, Green Thumb won another cultivation license in Ohio following an appeal to the state’s Department of Commerce, and now the company is preparing for New York expansion after closing the acquisition of Fiorello Pharmaceuticals.