After Social Equity Vote Failed, Chicago Cannabis Sales Will Begin Jan. 1

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In Chicago, adult-use cannabis sales will begin Jan. 1—along with the rest of Illinois. The decision came Dec. 18 after Mayor Lori Lightfoot fought back against an effort by the city’s black caucus to delay sales and develop a more equitable minority business ownership plan.

The Chicago Aldermanic Black Caucus sought a six-month delay, so that local government could work within the state regulations to allow more social equity business applicants to get a leg up in the city’s seven “zones.”

READ MORE: In Chicago, Cannabis Industry and City Government Debate Two Approaches for Social Equity 

“We’re going to have differences of opinion, and that’s okay,” Ald. Jason Ervin, who spoke with Cannabis Dispensary earlier this month, told CBS after hours of debate on Dec. 18. “This is democracy, and we have that.” 

One concession that did materialize was some sort of pledge from Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s office to award two of the five remaining medical cannabis licenses to open “with strong minority ownership numbers,” according to the Chicago Tribune, in two Chicago neighborhoods. The idea here is that those medical cannabis businesses may have an easier time transitioning to adult-use licenses in the near future. 

“We all support the notion that we must have equity. It’s what I ran on. It’s what I talk about virtually every time that I make a public statement. We’ve been since October working with members of the Black Caucus to try to address their concerns,” Lightfoot told the Chicago Tribune. “The governor and his team met with them many, many times, made specific concessions to address the issues and concerns that they had, and in the words of one alderman, sometimes you have to just take a win. That’s what today is about.”

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