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Illinois wants to get rolling on weed sales, but some say only white men are set to profit

Illinois wants to get rolling on weed sales, but some say only white men are set to profit

by Grace Hauck USA TODAY  |  Published on December 23, 2019

CHICAGO — Illinois is about to become the 11th state in the nation to allow the sale of recreational marijuana. But when the floodgates open in Chicago on New Year’s Day, it’ll be white men raking in the profits, aldermen say.

In Chicago, where 11 dispensaries have been licensed thus far, not one is owned by a woman or person of color, aldermen say.

That’s because the city’s initial licenses are only being awarded to owners of existing medical cannabis dispensaries, which have little-to-no minority ownership.

“No African Americans, no Latinx, no women,” Ald. Jason Ervin said at a contentious hourslong City Council meeting Wednesday. “A billion dollar industry is about to pass us by.”

While the Illinois cannabis law lays out a “social equity plan” to improve diversity in the industry, some say that giving initial licenses to existing dispensary owners stacks the decks against future owners, who will be behind by the time they’re up and running this spring.

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