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LEAP with Green Thumb

Launched on September 4, 2019, Green Thumb’s License Education Assistance Program (“LEAP”) is a first-of-its-kind Illinois social equity initiative designed to help reduce barriers to cannabis business ownership for Illinois residents who have been disproportionately impacted by cannabis prohibition.

Any and all Illinois social equity applicants (“SEAs”) as defined by the Illinois Cannabis Regulation & Tax Act are eligible for LEAP services.

LEAP services are provided free of charge. Green Thumb does not seek any type of fee, ownership or remuneration in exchange for its programming. This program is not available to current employees of Green Thumb or any of its subsidiaries.


Green Thumb initially developed LEAP to serve as a resource for SEAs looking to enter Illinois’ highly competitive regulated cannabis industry through the license application process. Applying lessons and best practices learned on Green Thumb’s own road to success with competitive license applications, the LEAP team provided pro bono application assistance to dispensary, craft grower, infuser, and transporter applicants through a variety of channels including, but not limited to:

  • Private Consultations – Each week Green Thumb’s application professionals offered 30-minute time slots for confidential one-on-one consultations.
  • Small Group Sessions – At weekly informational sessions open to all SEAs, we explained newly released license application information, responded to frequently asked questions, and provided a networking forum for SEAs to collaborate over resources and challenges.
  • Technical Guides – Green Thumb created written application guides tailored to each license type (dispensary, craft grower, infuser, transporter). These valuable guides provide insight into the application timeline, strategy and best business practices, and are updated as appropriate.
  • Tailored Presentations & Webinars – Green Thumb’s experienced professionals and/or third parties presented hour-long information sessions focused on LEAP participants’ most frequently cited challenges, followed by Q&A. In-house and external experts volunteered their time to walk SEAs through drafting a strong business plan and other operational plans, securing real estate, preparing security plans and layouts, and designing floor plans.
  • Strategic Partnerships – As a market leader, Green Thumb was able to leverage valuable partnerships for its LEAP applicants. This includes, for example, LEAP participant discounts and pro bono legal services from volunteer attorneys and application editing in partnership with local law schools.
  • Informational Emails – Frequent email blasts provide LEAP participants with insight into newly released information, events and resources.


With the end of the application period, Green Thumb is excited to continue its support of SEAs through the second phase of LEAP: the incubator program. Green Thumb’s team has tapped into expertise from all of its departments (accounting, legal, real estate, marketing, and more) to craft an incubator program we believe will be a leader in launching “Round One” SEAs to success in the Illinois cannabis market.

Full details will be released as soon as possible. Once license winners are announced, LEAP will officially shift into the in-house incubator phase.

License awards have been delayed due to COVID-19 and pending litigation. We will continue to update LEAP participants via email as we are notified of changes to the application and award process.


Crain’s Chicago Business: “No Easy Path Sharing Marijuana Wealth.”
Benzinga: “This Illinois Company is Offering Pro Bono Assistance for Social Equity Applicants.”

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