A West Side alderman who’s been fighting to make sure minorities get a bigger ownership stake in Chicago’s recreational marijuana market that’s set to fire up Jan. 1 has moved to force a City Council vote on his plan to push back the start date to July.
City Council Black Caucus Chairman Ald. Jason Ervin, 28th, said Friday he’s still working to convince state officials and Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s administration to strengthen the equity rules in the weed law so African Americans get a fair shake at getting a significant piece of the lucrative business before white owners corner it. […]
Ervin this week used a parliamentary procedure to announce his intention to discharge to the council floor his proposed ordinance that would outlaw recreational marijuana sales in Chicago until July 1. That proposal got a hearing last week in the council Committee on Contracting Oversight and Equity, but committee Chair Ald. Carrie Austin, 34th, did not hold a vote on it then.
It remains to be seen whether Ervin follows through on forcing the vote. He declined to say what specifically he needs to hear from the state and the mayor’s office in order to stay his hand. And if he does force it, it’s far from certain a majority of the 50-member City Council would support his delay plan. But it likely would be close.
* Response from former Sen. Toi Hutchinson, senior advisor to the governor on cannabis issues…
Earlier this week, the Governor was proud to stand with State’s Attorney Kim Foxx as she began the process of expunging low level criminal records of 1,000 people in Cook County who are victims of the war on drugs. Statewide, this is just the beginning, and we expect hundreds of thousands of records will be expunged, and there is no question that communities of color faced disproportionate impacts from the war on drugs. No other state in the nation has taken this approach.
Not only that, for the past five years, Illinois has had a homogenous cannabis industry, and it takes a tremendous amount of effort and diligence to turn it around in a constitutional way. The cannabis law does just that – we created a loan fund and the resources will be generated from the first group of dispensaries to provide seed money for dispensary owners from highly impacted communities. We created a social equity applicant status; those who are interested are currently applying for licenses. The social equity application period ends Jan. 2, and licenses will be granted starting May 1. In the meantime, we capped the existing market so that there is plenty of room for additional entrepreneurs. For instance, there are roughly three dozen dispensaries that have been authorized to sell adult-use cannabis; eventually Illinois will have a cap of 500 dispensaries.
No other state in the nation has taken this robust and unique approach to equity, and we will continue to work to ensure that all communities benefit from this legalization. Delaying this implementation would do significant damage – and do far more harm than good in actually achieving equity.
Reasoned response to a somewhat curious push by the alderman.