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.

# # #



8/2/2021 Statement from the Cannabis Business Association of Illinois

Date: Aug. 2, 2021


The Cannabis Business Association of Illinois congratulates the state’s newest cannabis licensees and is excited to welcome them into the marketplace.

CBAI also welcomes the decision announced Monday by the Pritzker Administration to award as many as 60 additional craft grower and 60 additional infuser licenses to current social equity applicants. Many of these applicants have been waiting for more than a year for the process to play out, and this decision means they will be considered for these additional opportunities without going through the time or expense of re-applying.

Together, these actions are in line with the intent of the Illinois General Assembly to bring fairness, diversity and equity to the industry.

CBAI will continue to advocate for fast, fair administrative action, regulatory changes that support the industry, continued support for medical patients and amendments to the law that support all cannabis entrepreneurs.

# # #



7/29/2021 Statement from the Cannabis Business Association of Illinois


The Cannabis Business Association of Illinois welcomes today’s action by the State of Illinois to conduct the first of three lotteries and move forward to award social equity licenses. These applicants have put their lives on hold for more than a year as this process played out, and we’re excited to finally welcome these new businesses into the industry.

CBAI will continue to advocate for fast, fair administrative action, regulatory changes that support the industry, continued support for medical patients and amendments to the law that support all cannabis entrepreneurs.

Social equity applicants who were not awarded a license this round are encouraged to check out CBAI’s Minority Business Associate Membership program at to apply for free membership to the association.


Press inquiries:


7/23/2021 IMPORTANT: Updates announced from the CROO

The following important updates were just announced from the Cannabis Regulatory Oversight Office (CROO) regarding:

  • Craft Grow, Infuser and Transportation
  • Adult-Use Dispensary Lottery Dates
  • Community College Curricula
  • Social Equity Cannabis Technical Assistance and Loan Program


Legislative Update

Under the CRTA, the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) is permitted to issue 75 conditional adult-use cannabis dispensary licenses. HB 1443, which was introduced by Representative LaShawn Ford and Leader Kimberly Lightford and supported by the administration, expands opportunities by creating two new lotteries:

  • A social equity justice-involved lottery for 55 additional licenses to be awarded to:
    • those who have received a score of at least 85% on their application, or 213 out of a total of 250 possible points; and
    • live in a disproportionately impacted area, has an eligible cannabis conviction, or has a family member with an eligible cannabis conviction;
  • A lottery for an additional 55 licenses for applicants who had a score of at least 85% on their application. In total, 185 dispensary licenses will be determined through the lottery process.

HB 1443 is effective immediately.

Related Attachments: HB1443 One-Pager |General Licensing One-Pager


Craft Grow, Infuser and Transportation

The Illinois Department of Agriculture (IDOA), which is responsible for the licensing process for craft grow, infuser, and transporter licenses, issued notifications to applicants who are eligible to receive one of 213 total licenses: 40 craft grow, 32 infuser, and 141 transporter. Craft grow and infuser applicants have 10 business days to respond to the notification confirming their interest in receiving a license and to submit the required fee and documents. Transporter applicants have until February 2022 to confirm their interest in receiving a license.

Related Attachments: IDOA licensing process | IDOA Demographic Information



Adult-Use Dispensary Lottery Dates

The Illinois State Lottery will conduct a total of three lotteries for adult-use dispensary license applicants this year. The lotteries will be held on:

  • July 29th: the lottery for qualifying applicants who received who received a score of at least 85% of the 250 application points will be held for the 55 licenses in that category.
  • August 5th: the lottery for social equity justice-involved applicants who received a score of at least 85% of the 250 application points and are located in a disproportionately impacted area or have an eligible conviction will be held for the 55 available licenses in that category.
  • August 19th: the final lottery will be held for top scoring, tied applicants for the original 75 licenses outlined in the CRTA.

Lotteries for all cannabis-related licenses, as it is for all other lotteries, will be a completely blind process managed by the Illinois State Lottery. All draws will be automated via a computer program and the Lottery will run multiple quality assurance checks before delivering the final results of each lottery to Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR). The results of each lottery will be available by 5 p.m. on the day of the draws.

Related Attachments: Lottery One-Pager |IDFPR Pre-Lottery Checklist


Community College Curricula

The Cannabis Community College Vocational Pilot Program grants eligible higher education institutions the ability to develop a curriculum to train a new generation of cannabis industry professionals and leaders. Seven inaugural recipients of the license as well as plans to announce additional licenses soon. The community college license recipients are: Kishwaukee College, Oakton College, Olive-Harvey College, Shawnee Community College, Southwestern Illinois College, Triton College, and Wilbur Wright College.

This innovative program offers students a path to achieving a Career in Cannabis Certificate which includes the ability to work with, study, and grow live cannabis plants to prepare for a career in the legal cannabis industry and instruction in the legal compliance of the cannabis business industry, among other topics. The program is a vital part of the growing cannabis industry in Illinois and will provide a path to the thousands of new jobs being created right here in Illinois for community college graduates in communities around the state.


Social Equity Cannabis Technical Assistance and Loan Program

Social Equity Applicants are eligible for ongoing, free technical assistance through the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO):


Additionally, DCEO has established the Social Equity Loan (SEL) program to provide financial assistance for social equity licensees, and to help increase access to capital for prospective social equity cannabis entrepreneurs over time.

The SEL program will provide flexible low interest loans to assist with the expenses of starting and operating a cannabis business establishment. Loan terms will be determined on a case-by-case basis, with a general repayment term of over five years. To be eligible for the loan, a cannabis business establishment must receive licensure and meet the qualifications of a social equity applicant. Funding will be prioritized for applicants demonstrating the greatest adverse impact from the failed war on drugs. Licensees offered conditional acceptance into the Loan Program will be referred to lender partners for a full review of the loan application for funding consideration.

To administer the loan program, DCEO is partnering with two lenders, Good Tree Capital and Credit Union 1, who will work alongside the state to provide low-interest loan agreements for qualifying SEA applicants. Loans may be made available up to the following amounts:

  • Transporter: $100,000 
  • Adult-Use Dispensing Organization: $500,000 
  • Infuser: $500,000 
  • Cultivator: $1,000,000 

Through its partnership with lending partners, the State anticipates up to $34 million in loans could be made available in the first year, and the State will work with partners to enhance the loan program to ensure that it is a sustainable source of financial support for the social equity community.

DCEO has launched an application intake portal allowing social equity awardees to submit to the loan program. Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis. The intake application is the first step in the loan approval process. Approved applicants will be referred to the participating lenders for loan underwriting. The intake form can be found online here.