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What the critics are missing, intentionally or otherwise

Thursday, Dec 5, 2019

* Tribune

With Chicago weeks away from opening the weed gates to recreational cannabis use, black aldermen on Wednesday again complained white dispensary operators will get too big a head start on the lucrative business, and argued broad legalization should be stalled until midyear.

The City Council hearing on Black Caucus Chairman Ald. Jason Ervin’s ordinance to push back the start date on recreational sales until July 1, 2020, did not include a vote on his proposal. That clears the way for the state law to take effect on Jan. 1.

They didn’t have a vote because that hearing was all for show. Something else may be going on there.

* What Ervin and others, including in the media, have failed to focus on is why it’s important to social equity applicants to get this program up and running

Toi Hutchinson, a key architect of the legalization law and the governor’s top pot adviser, added that “January 1 is just the beginning” of the rollout of the cannabis law.

So far, 14 of Illinois’ 21 current cultivation centers have earned licenses to grow recreational weed and 30 of the state’s 55 existing dispensaries have been awarded licenses to sell both medical and recreational pot.

To earn those licenses, existing operators had to cough up hefty application fees that will form the economic bedrock of the social equity program. Dispensary owners will also have to make another contribution to the state’s cannabis business development fund, which will be used to offer fee relief, loans and technical assistance to equity candidates.

The statute lays out what those fees will pay for. Here are some bullet points I’ve made that were taken from the statute

* Grants and low-interest loans to social equity applicants to help start and operate cannabis businesses;

* Outreach programs to attract and support social equity applicants;

* Studies on the participation of minorities, women, veterans, or people with disabilities in the cannabis industry, including, without limitation, barriers to such individuals entering the industry as equity owners of cannabis business establishments;

* Job training and technical assistance for residents in Disproportionately Impacted Areas.

Any delay by Chicago would hurt all of these programs.

* Also

To date, only 30 dispensary licenses have been issued. The state expects 500 by the time the program is fully deployed. Next week, regulators will begin accepting applications from so-called “equity” applicants from traditionally disadvantaged communities.

“In Illinois we’re different,” Pritzker said. “Our social equity applicants will be eligible for the 75 licenses that come online in just a few months, and be able to get business loans to get off the ground funded by the existing industry.”

* Related…

* JB Pritzker signed follow-up cannabis legislation. Here’s what it included.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

13 Comments
  1. - Charlie Brown - Thursday, Dec 5, 19 @ 12:19 pm:

    The Pritzker administration are the last folks who should be criticizing anyone for not being able to read a bill. #TwitterEffect #YouHadMeAt144Chars


  2. - Money Time - Thursday, Dec 5, 19 @ 12:50 pm:

    To the quotes in the article:

    =“I’m telling them right now, don’t even talk to me unless you have African American partners,” said Ald. Walter Burnett Jr., 27th, whose ward stretches from the Near North Side to the West Side. “Don’t waste your time coming to see me. Because I don’t even want to talk to them. Because I think you’re just being racist in my face when you talk to me about this stuff and you don’t allow African Americans to be your partner. It’s ridiculous, man.”=

    =“We would never, as a body, allow anything to pass through this with this magnitude of economic impact, and not have (minority) participation,” Ervin said. “Every bond deal that goes through here, we’re hawks on, if there’s African American, Latino participation. Every other type of financial transaction that comes through this body, we have these same questions, and this same question needs to be asked about cannabis, adult-use cannabis here in the city of Chicago.”=

    Are these Alderman aware that the feds are closely watching Illinois politicos?

    Guess we know where the first lawsuit challenging the law might come from.


  3. - Grandson of Man - Thursday, Dec 5, 19 @ 12:56 pm:

    Didn’t know that, about the first licensed dispensaries being very important financially to social equity and the complete and subsequent rollout of future dispensaries. It would be key that they start the process on January 1.

    If memory serves, medical dispensaries were given first crack at the recreational market because they’re already established and experienced, and should be more prepared to roll out legalization quicker. This benefits consumers also, who could legally obtain marijuana as early as possible after legalization starts.

    “To date, only 30 dispensary licenses have been issued. The state expects 500 by the time the program is fully deployed.”

    Many more dispensaries will open after the initial rollout, so therein lie social equity opportunities. So wonderful to be alive in this time (after years of advocacy) and watch the industry preparing to open and taking shape.


  4. - Maryjane - Thursday, Dec 5, 19 @ 1:17 pm:

    Since this Aldermen objecting business came up and was resolved already once very recently, it seemed to me this latest episode was to generate last minute sound-bites. And with only a couple of work weeks (minus x-mas) left before the roll-out, it seemed a bit fanciful.

    As a veteran (USN 81-96), I’m heartened to note that some thought is going into including us, specifically, down the road.

    Anyway, we’re almost there, and it looks like we’re finishing in the points at least. I’m looking forward to it not being such a big deal anymore. And most certainly looking forward to a legal garden, very soon indeed.


  5. - Downstate - Thursday, Dec 5, 19 @ 1:31 pm:

    Over the Thanksgiving holiday I surveyed my nieces and nephews on vaping, marijuana and drug use among their classmates. Collectively, the group represented both a rural and metro-area high school, as well as a state university and two out-of-state universities.

    Vaping and marijuana use are alarmingly high at the high school level. And many of the students who were partaking of marijuana at the high school age have migrated “up” to harder drugs upon reaching college. Scary times.


  6. - Pundent - Thursday, Dec 5, 19 @ 1:39 pm:

    =Vaping and marijuana use are alarmingly high at the high school level.=

    Yet another consequence of the unregulated black market. Don’t be scared. Despite your reefer madness, real studies continue to debunk the gateway drug argument.


  7. - LoyalVirus - Thursday, Dec 5, 19 @ 1:43 pm:

    -Downstate - cannabis itself is not a gateway drug. It is the dealers providing illegal weed that try to up the game each time they sell. Legal dispensaries will sell one thing - marijuana - therefore no tempting offers of other illicit items.


  8. - 47th Ward - Thursday, Dec 5, 19 @ 1:49 pm:

    Ald. Walter Burnett was quoted saying, essentially, “if you don’t have an African-American partner, don’t bother applying for a permit in his ward.”

    Why do I have a sneaking feeling that he has some specific potential partners in mind?


  9. - Downstate - Thursday, Dec 5, 19 @ 1:56 pm:

    “Gateway Drug” It appears that there are multiple studies on the gateway aspect of marijuana use. But the studies have found absolutely varied on their conclusion.


  10. - Rod - Thursday, Dec 5, 19 @ 2:31 pm:

    I am having a problem with the concept of social equity applicants in Marijuana sales. It reminds me a great deal of minority contracting in Chicago, where some turned out to be front people for very traditional contractors. Back in 2010 the City of Chicago’s Office of the Inspector General issued an 80 page report on problems that riddled the City’s minority contracting program.

    One of the most common problems was the use of “pass-throughs” in which supposed minority owned firms were awarded contracts, but the work was actually subcontracted out to non-minority firms to perform. I expect we will see some of this hide the ball Chicago style in the cannabis industry. Chicago ain’t ready for no reform yet as a wise Alderman once opined.


  11. - DuPage Saint - Thursday, Dec 5, 19 @ 2:38 pm:

    I bet Ald Burnett does have a magic list of potential partners. In fact I bet there are lots of magic lists floating around government offices


  12. - Lodestar - Thursday, Dec 5, 19 @ 2:47 pm:

    Where was Jason Ervin when cannabis was being debated in Springfield? Where was Melissa “money lady” Conyears Ervin in the lead up to bill passage?


  13. - Jocko - Thursday, Dec 5, 19 @ 5:52 pm:

    ==It appears that there are multiple studies on the gateway aspect of marijuana use.==

    To what? Obesity from late night pizza?


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