Cannabis Business Association of Illinois Applauds Move by Biden Administration to Reschedule Marijuana

SPRINGFIELD – The Cannabis Business Association of Illinois released the following statement after President Joe Biden announced his administration took a key step forward to reclassify marijuana from a Schedule I to a Schedule III drug:

“We applaud the Biden administration’s decision to reclassify marijuana under the Controlled Substances Act as it affirms what our group advocates for – safe, legal, and community-building uses of cannabis. We look forward to evaluating the proposed rules, which would reclassify marijuana from a Schedule I drug on par with heroin to a less dangerous Schedule III drug,” said Tiffany Chappell Ingram, Executive Director of the Cannabis Business Association of Illinois. “In the decades since marijuana was erroneously categorized, Black and Brown communities have experienced countless repercussions stemming from the war on drugs. While this decision cannot reverse that damage, it does recognize the medical benefits of cannabis and enhances the viability of marijuana companies, including allowing for the same expense deductions enjoyed by other businesses. This is an important step in the right direction for the cannabis industry and our society at large, and we hope this continues to pave the path towards federal legalization.”

Coalition of Scientists, Safety Advocates and Cannabis Industry Groups Unveil Bipartisan Legislation to Regulate Hemp Consumer Products, Prohibit Synthetic THC Intoxicants Such as Delta-8

SPRINGFIELD – A coalition of scientists, safety advocates and cannabis industry groups today unveiled bipartisan legislation to create a long-overdue regulatory framework for hemp consumer products following a proliferation of unregulated THC products that has created confusion across the state and put consumers at risk.

The Hemp Consumer Products Act (SB3926), sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Kimberly A. Lightford, D-Maywood, would create a regulatory framework for hemp consumer products, establishing standards for licensing, testing and labeling akin to those already in place for cannabis. It would also prohibit synthetic THC intoxicants such as Delta-8 pending further study and review of product safety. The goal of the legislation is to fill the gap left by federal regulators who have left standardization and regulation of hemp to the states. While dozens of other states have taken action, Illinois consumers remain vulnerable without clear guidelines.

Hemp consumer products are products that contain naturally occurring hemp and contain no greater than 0.3 percent of total THC in the end product, such as CBD. Synthetic THC intoxicants such as Delta-8 and Delta-10 are products that are adulterated or chemically modified to concentrate THC, leading to products that are extremely potent.

Licensed cannabis businesses regulated by the state have gone through countless steps to ensure they are operating safely, adhering to detailed rules, including product quality control and testing, a strict ban on sales to anyone under 18, and numerous zoning guidelines including those that prohibit dispensaries from opening next to schools. Applying similar standards to consumer hemp products will allow businesses to continue to sell the safe hemp products many consumers rely on, while preventing access to synthetic THC intoxicants that pose a danger to our communities.

“Regulating the sale of hemp will create a clear distinction between consumer hemp products that have been vetted for use by consumers and synthetic THC intoxicants that are concocted without oversight,” said Tiffany Chappell Ingram, Executive Director of the Cannabis Business Association of Illinois. “This will not only empower consumers, giving them certainty about dosage and ingredients, but also protect children from accessing products that will make them sick.”

“Without establishing guidelines and regulations on hemp products, consumers are vulnerable and unable to make informed decisions,” said Sen. Celina Villanueva, D-Chicago, a sponsor of the bill. “This legislation will ensure proper safeguards are in place to protect small businesses and consumers.”

“Some of these intoxicating products are advertised to the youngest shoppers without any regulation or testing,” said House Deputy Republican Leader Rep. Norine Hammond, R-Macomb. “We wouldn’t allow that in any other industry, so why should these products be treated any differently? It’s time for the state to intervene.”

Key provisions of the bill include:

  • Ensuring continuity of operations for current hemp retailers to continue selling non-intoxicating, consumer-friendly hemp products.
  • Establishing important consumer protections for hemp consumer products, including minimum testing requirements, labeling, advertising, and regulatory oversight to ensure consumers have accurate information and can make informed decisions when purchasing hemp consumer products (such as CBD, CBN, and CBG).
  • Expanding upon current law, providing civil enforcement mechanisms for unlicensed sales of THC products outside the purview of the Cannabis Regulation Tax Act, including deceptive practices violations for targeting THC products to minors.
  • Prohibiting synthetic THC intoxicants (such as Delta-8 and Delta-10) pending further study and review.
  • Establishing a Hemp Synthesized Intoxicants Safety Committee, made up of state public health officials, doctors, scientists, and research experts to study the health impacts, manufacturing, and safety profile of synthetic THC hemp-derived consumer products for licensure and sale in Illinois. The Safety Committee will produce a report to inform product safety and potential manufacturing standards for state regulators and the General Assembly.
  • Inviting retailers who wish to sell intoxicating products to apply for newly-available cannabis dispensary licenses.

“It is important regulations exist so shoppers know what is in the products they consume. Right now, what’s on the label is not always what’s in the bottle,” said Bob Miller, Ph. D., Chief Scientific Officer at ACT Laboratories, Inc., a licensed cannabis testing lab.

These common-sense regulations will protect children and consumers of all ages, while also ensuring the state’s cannabis industry is no longer undermined by stores selling similar products without proper oversight.

“Right now, there are 200 small businesses that have gone through the painstaking cannabis application process and are trying to raise money to open,” said Kareem Kenyatta, co-founder of the Majority-Minority Group, a company dedicated to creating more minority owned businesses in the cannabis industry. “How is the regulated and taxed cannabis industry supposed to survive when someone can open up across the street, call themselves the same thing and operate without any rules?”

“This legislation will put in place safeguards for consumers, while also protecting the investments made by small businesses owners across Illinois, including cannabis businesses and hemp retailers,” said Rep. Nick Smith, D-Chicago, who is sponsoring the legislation in the House. “This is a win-win-win.”

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Cannabis Business Association of Illinois Welcomes Tiffany Chappell Ingram as Executive Director

SPRINGFIELD – The Cannabis Business Association of Illinois (CBAI) is proud to announce Tiffany Chappell Ingram as the group’s new Executive Director. With her wealth of expertise in the sector, Ingram’s leadership will strengthen CBAI’s mission to advance the state’s cannabis industry through effective advocacy and legislative outreach.

Since the legalization of adult-use cannabis in Illinois in 2019, Ingram has established a deep, multifaceted understanding of the industry through her advocacy work on both the government, and business sides of this highly- regulated, complex sector.

“Tiffany brings insight from all aspects of the state’s cannabis industry and

we look forward to leveraging her skills to ensure the state’s cannabis industry reaches its full potential,” said Jeremy Unruh, Chair of the CBAI. “Year after year,

Illinois’ cannabis industry delivers jobs and tax revenue. These have a direct and remarkable impact on the state’s social and economic landscape. Tiffany brings the expertise needed to help guide our industry in this important evolution.”

Prior to joining CBAI, Ingram was owner of Renge Resolutions LLC, a regulatory policy and strategy consultancy. She previously served as an Associate Director of Government Affairs for Weedmaps, a publicly-traded technology platform and software provider, as well as the Deputy Cannabis Regulation Oversight Officer for Policy and Legislation for the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation, coordinating the thirteen state agencies that have statutory authority related to cannabis. These positions follow years of additional government relations and advocacy work in the private and public sectors.

“I’m honored to work on behalf of cannabis businesses across Illinois to strengthen our industry, serve patients and consumers and invest in our communities,” said Ingram. “As our sector continues to expand, I look forward to working collaboratively to tap its fullest potential and diversity.”

Ingram holds a bachelor’s degree from Hamilton College, earned a juris doctor degree from the University of Wisconsin Law School and is licensed to practice law in the state of Illinois. She sits on the Triton College Foundation Board and was a board member for the Bellwood and Maywood Chambers of Commerce.

About the Cannabis Business Association of Illinois (CBAI)

The Cannabis Business Association of Illinois serves as the voice of Illinois’ cannabis industry by advocating for patient well-being, consumer safety, greater equity and inclusion, job creation, community investment and the responsible use of cannabis. CBAI is a non-profit association that represents more than 80% of all Illinois cannabis businesses licensed by the state of Illinois, as well as ancillary businesses that support the cannabis industry and social equity applicants.


Grown In Offers Discounted Vendor Training for CBAI Members

Grown In Offers Discounted Vendor Training for CBAI Members

The Cannabis Business Association of Illinois (CBAI) is happy to announce discounted Responsible Vendor Training available through Grown In, as part of a collaboration to provide CBAI members with expanded access to education, information and networking opportunities in the Illinois cannabis industry.

CBAI members will have access to Grown In Learning courses, including Illinois Responsible Vendor Training (RVT), which is required for all cannabis industry employees in the state. Members will also have access to other professional learning topics that adhere to Illinois Department of Finance and Professional Regulation guidelines, as well as a growing library of learning experiences developed by Grown In. These include curated and guided modules for the Cannabis Innovation Lab program, which helps cannabis entrepreneurs and startups develop their businesses.

With this collaboration, CBAI members in good standing will receive a 10 percent discount on Grown In training. View select course previews and contact Grown In Chief Revenue Officer Marcy Alspach for more details ().

While CBAI members are encouraged to take advantage of the discounted training offered by Grown In, they are always free to select another vendor of their choice.

Cannabis Business Association of Illinois Chooses New Board Members and Officers

Nov. 15, 2022

For Immediate Release

Cannabis Business Association of Illinois Chooses New Board Members and Officers

CHICAGO – The Cannabis Business Association of Illinois (CBAI), the state’s leading cannabis trade group, elected a diverse, new line-up of industry executives to serve two-year terms on the board of directors during its recent annual meeting. In addition, the group selected several members to serve in board leadership positions.

“Our board members reflect the diversity of our membership,” said CBAI Executive Director Pam Althoff. “We take seriously the state’s pledge to create an equity focused recreational cannabis program. Our leadership, together with our members, will continue to support policy recommendations to help the state live up to its pledge on equity.”

Board Chair Jeremy Unruh, senior vice president of PharmaCann Inc, said CBAI will advocate for state legislation in 2023 to streamline the confusing multi-agency oversight of the state’s cannabis program and eliminate the use of a federal tax penalty that prohibits cannabis businesses in Illinois from deducting normal business expenses such as rent and payroll.

“The maze of regulatory hurdles at the state level is a significant challenge to success in the Illinois cannabis market,” Unruh said. “For social equity entrepreneurs especially, the additional burden of crippling tax penalties makes it nearly impossible to get their businesses off the ground.”

The newly elected directors chosen at the board’s Thursday meeting are: Ambrose Jackson, chairman and CEO of 1937 Group; Laura Jaramillo Bernal, director of special projects for NuEra Cannabis; Portia Mittons, cofounder and vice president of Bridge City Collective; Ngiste Abebe, vice president at Columbia Care; Ted Brunsvold, founder and owner of Nature’s Treatment; Gabe Mendoza, executive vice president at 4Front Ventures; and Terry Peterson, CEO of Progressive Treatment.

They join current board members whose terms run through 2023: Unruh (PharmaCann); Scott Golden (Cresco Labs); James Leventis (Verano Holdings); Tim O’Hern (Nature’s Grace and Wellness); Frank Perullo (Ascend Wellness); and Don Williams (Curaleaf).

The CBAI also appointed the following board members to leadership positions for the 2023-2024 term: Portia Mittons to serve as treasurer, Tim O’Hern to serve as vice chair, and Don Williams to serve as second vice chair. Those new officers join Chair Unruh, Secretary Leventis and immediate Past Chair John Sullivan as the organization’s executive committee.

The CBAI board of directors is elected from member companies with operational Illinois cannabis licenses.
Here are bios of the CBAI board of directors:

Jeremy Unruh/PharmaCann
Jeremy Unruh is the Chair of CBAI’s Board and senior vice president of regulatory and external affairs for PharmaCann Inc., which operates more than sixty licensed cannabis facilities, including dispensaries and cultivation centers. He is responsible for the company’s external matters, including legislative policy and public affairs; media relationships; organized labor, and coordination with state and local regulators. Jeremy also oversees the development of the PharmaCann social equity and corporate responsibility program. A former prosecutor, Jeremy also went into private practice focusing on commercial litigation, internal compliance investigations and product liability defense.

Ngiste Abebe/Columbia Care
Ngiste Abebe is Vice President of Public Policy at Columbia Care, one of New York’s first medical cannabis operators. She crafts equitable cannabis policy and partnership strategies, and leads industry associations in New York, DC and Illinois. Ngiste previously co-founded Undaunted Ventures, a political consulting firm that specializes in innovative narrative, training and leadership coaching services.

Ted Brunsvold/Nature’s Treatment
Ted Brunsvold is founder and owner of Nature’s Treatment of Illinois, with locations in Milan and Galesburg. Ted is also the President/founder of Illinois Governmental Consulting Group, LLC, a consulting and lobbying firm that works with the Illinois General Assembly, City of Chicago, Cook County and U.S. Congress. He has been a member of CBAI since its inception in 2019 as well as CBAI’s precursor Medical Cannabis Alliance of Illinois.

Ambrose Jackson/1937 Group
Ambrose Jackson is the Chairman and CEO of the 1937 Group, a parent company of several businesses in the cannabis industry, including cultivation, processing, infusion, transportation and retail. He has 12 years of experience in healthcare business management, leading departments responsible for regulatory compliance, patient safety and quality improvement. He has also worked at recognized organizations like Cleveland Clinic and Advocate Aurora Health and has served on the Board of Directors for the America College of Healthcare Executives and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northeast Ohio.

Laura Jaramillo Bernal/NuEra Cannabis
Laura Jaramillo Bernal is the Director of Special Projects for NuEra Cannabis, where she has navigated the Illinois and Michigan cannabis industries, working on everything from securing zoning approvals to supervising buildout projects. Before joining the cannabis industry, Laura served as COO of NAIM Media Group, a DC-based media company that develops, produces and distributes content. She also served as Executive Producer of Efecto Naim, an Emmy-winning weekly international affairs show broadcast throughout the Americas. She has been selected as a World Economic Forum Global Shaper, as one of Huffington Post’s 40 under 40 Latinos in Foreign Policy and as a Michael Rockefeller Memorial Fellow.

Gabriel Mendoza/4Front Ventures
Gabriel Mendoza is Executive Vice President of Retail Operations at 4Front Ventures, where he shepherds retail projects into and through every stage of the business life cycle. He is also the cofounder of Chicago NORML, a non-profit that worked to help shape the equity provisions of Illinois’ cannabis legislation. A lifelong Chicagoan, Gabriel got his start in the Illinois cannabis industry in 2014 when he applied for and won one of the medical cannabis cultivation licenses and one of the sixty medical cannabis dispensary licenses.

Portia Mittons/Bridge City Collective
Portia Mittons is the cofounder and Retail Vice President of Bridge City Collective, a multi-state cannabis business with a focus on education and wellness. She is also co-chair of CBAI’s Minority Access Committee, where she works to help social equity applicants thrive in the cannabis industry. Portia co-owns the cannabis dispensary Coughie Pot in Sumpter, Oregon and is actively engaged in numerous cannabis symposiums and conferences focusing on social equity issues, careers in cannabis and CBD guidance.

Terry Peterson/Progressive Treatment Solutions
Terry Peterson is the CEO of Progressive Treatment Solutions, a licensed medical cannabis cultivation and manufacturing facility. He previously served as Vice President for Corporate and External Affairs at Rush University Medical Center, Chairman of the Board for the Chicago Transit Authority and CEO of the Chicago Housing Authority. Terry has also spent time in public service, serving as Alderman of Chicago’s 17th Ward and Executive Assistant to Mayor Richard Daley.

Scott Golden/Cresco Labs
Scott Golden is the Vice President of Public Affairs at Cresco Labs, one of the first medical cannabis license holders and an original CBAI member. He supports Cresco’s government affairs, social equity and community integration teams, as well as Cresco’s legislative and regulatory priorities. Scott has assisted CBAI in crafting draft legislation, including HB1443 and the federal Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act. Prior to joining Cresco, Scott worked as a litigator in private practice and as a government attorney.

James Leventis/Verano
James Leventis is Vice President of Legal, Head of Regulatory, Compliance and Government Affairs at Verano Holdings. Since its formation, James has helped the company grow from a single-state operator to a publicly traded corporation with vertically integrated operations across twelve states. Prior to joining Verano, James developed an extensive background in the cannabis industry during his time in private practice, where he was an integral part of helping several applicants develop and operate medical licenses in Illinois.

Tim O’Hern/Nature’s Grace and Wellness
Tim O’Hern is Chief Operating Officer and general counsel at Nature’s Grace and Wellness, a cannabis cultivator based on the O’Hern family farm in Vermont, Illinois. Tim previously practiced law in St. Louis, serving as a litigator for insurance bad faith claims, employment claims, wrongful deaths and more. In addition to his legal experience, Tim has been actively involved in all areas of Nature’s Grace operations, including cultivation, extraction, packaging, operations management, product development, equipment and materials sourcing, facility design and development and sales lead generation.

Frank Perullo/Ascend Wellness Holdings
Frank Perullo is the cofounder and Chief Strategy Officer of Ascend Wellness Holdings, which owns and operates state-of-the-art cultivation facilities. He is also the founder of Novus Group and Sage Systems, one of the leading providers of web-based campaign management software. Sage’s ListManager tool empowered thousands of campaigns across the country to make data driven micro-targeted decisions. Frank has served as the general consultant and pollster on hundreds of successful campaigns and has been named by Campaigns and Elections as one of the nation’s most powerful political influencers.

Don Williams/Curaleaf
Don Williams is Vice President of Government Relations for Curaleaf, a medical and recreational marijuana dispensary that operates in more than 20 states. He joined Curaleaf in 2019 and covers the company’s Central and West Regions of the United States. Don previously worked in the private and public sector for over 30 years. He started his corporate career at McDonald’s Corporation in training, operations and government relations.


About CBAI
The Cannabis Business Association of Illinois was originally established in 2015 as the Medical Cannabis Alliance of Illinois. We have grown alongside our members and today, the Cannabis Business Association of Illinois (CannaBiz IL or CBAI) is a non-profit statewide association that represents cannabis businesses licensed by the state of Illinois as well, ancillary businesses, and industry supporters. CBAI’s Board of Directors of is composed of owners and operators of Illinois’ cultivation centers, MSOs, and independently owned dispensaries.



6/1/2022 Statement from the Cannabis Business Association of Illinois

6/1/2022 Statement from the Cannabis Business Association of Illinois


June 1, 2022

The Illinois Cannabis Business Association welcomes the action by a Cook County judge lifting the legal hold on issuing cannabis dispensary licenses to 185 social equity applicants. While we are pleased with this development, we are disappointed in the decision of the administration to hold these conditional licenses until further guidance is given in the federal residency case, as each delay continues to harm those waiting to enter the industry.

The applicants have put their careers and livelihood on hold in anticipation of these awards, including taking on daunting financial risks to pursue a promise made by the state when the cannabis equity legislation was passed in 2019.

The state must do more to implement policies that provide greater ownership opportunities for minority cannabis entrepreneurs, including set-aside licenses, innovative incubation and co-location programs, and legislation that addresses the challenges for diverse businesses.

The court’s action, and the state’s swift follow up, are both necessary to address ongoing inequities in the licensing process as well as to answer the growing demand for safe recreational cannabis products from consumers across Illinois.

This will allow our industry to become, as anticipated when the law passed, an evolving, growing, thriving industry, instead of the stop and go process that has hindered its true potential.

We are heartened by the court’s action and look forward to celebrating the arrival of these new businesses into the Illinois market.

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