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Cannabis Social Equity Loan Program

Applications are now closed.

At the core of DCEO’s Cannabis Social Equity Loan program is an unwavering commitment to equity as the state works to ensure that entrepreneurs that have been adversely impacted by the war on drugs have a space in the growing cannabis industry.  DCEO developed the Direct Forgivable Loan (DFL) Program in response to feedback from license holders that continue to face systemic barriers to accessing capital and becoming operational.  Direct Forgivable Loans are fully financed by the State of Illinois. We offer a significant grace period, low interest rates, and full principal forgiveness upon receiving proof of eligible expenses.

Interest Rates are 4% after an 18-month grace period of no required payments and 0% interest; applicants can also pursue forgiveness prior to any interest accruing.  The loan principal is 100% forgivable upon providing documentation for eligible business expenses.

Eligible Applicants

When a social equity applicant has been awarded a conditional license under the Cannabis Regulation & Tax Act (CRTA) to operate a cannabis business establishment, they are considered a “qualified social equity applicant.” Only qualified social equity applicants are eligible for social equity loans and grants from appropriations from the Cannabis Business Development Fund.

Please note that the current round of the Cannabis Social Equity Direct Forgivable Loan Program is only open for social equity Adult-Use Dispensing organizations who were issued a Conditional Adult-Use Dispensary License (284.XXXXX-CL) or Adult-Use Dispensary License (284.XXXXXX-AUDO) prior to calendar year 2023 from the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR).  

FAQ's and Information Webinar

A Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) document with questions about the loan process is available here.

Applicants are encouraged to attend a webinar. If you were unable to attend a webinar, recordings of the webinars from March 5, 2024 and March 26, 2024 are available.

Application Instructions

Applicants must fill out the documents outlined below and complete the Smartsheet Application Form by Wednesday, April 17, 2024, at 5:00 p.m. Late submissions will not be reviewed or accepted. Complete instructions are detailed in the Application Cover letter.

DCEO Application Attachments:

Please direct any questions about the application via email to: