Illinois hopes to increase Black and brown-owned recreational pot businesses

BURBANK, Ill. (CBS) – Social equity was a pillar in the state’s recreational marijuana legislation, but three years after it passed, many Black and brown-owned businesses are still not up and running.

That’s leading critics to question whether or not the state is prioritizing the applicants. CBS 2’s Andrew Ramos had the story from Burbank.

A moment more than three years in the making: the doors at Star Buds’ dispensary in Burbank is finally open.

The partners in the majority Black-owned cannabis dispensary were among the first applicants under the state’s social equity program, the first of its kind in the nation. The program was a central part of the law that legalized recreational marijuana in Illinois.

Their journey, the partners said, had not shortage of red tape.

"I think we all have to acknowledge that things didn’t go all as planned, but the important thing is, we are here today," said Kareem Kenyatta, managing partner at Star Buds.

Star Buds’ license application was submitted in 2019. Despite receiving a perfect score, years of delays and setbacks, which included COVID and a slew of lawsuits stemming from the state’s license lottery, hindered any progress for them and other social equity applicants to get their start.

"Anytime you are trying to eradicate systemic racism over the scope of hundreds and hundreds of years, you’ve got to understand that there are going to be some kinks in the road," said Tiffany Hightower, a managing partner at Star Buds.

Today, Star Buds is just the seventh social equity dispensary to open in the state, four of which are majority Black-owned.

Since clearing legal hurdles from multiple lawsuits last summer, the state’s cannabis regulation oversight office assures this trickle of social equity ownership will soon turn into a waterfall.

"This is the first (program) that’s in America," said Erin Johnson, the state’s cannabis regulation oversight officer. "So we are proud of that, but with that comes the fact that we don’t have a blueprint."

As the state continues to work out the kinks, officials say social equity applicants are and will continue to be a priority.

They hope to have as many as 45 businesses up and running across the state by the summer.

Region: Chicago,Local,City: Chicago

via Syndicated Local – CBS Chicago

February 9, 2023 at 04:54PM

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s