Mayor Lori Lightfoot, who previously advocated for a municipally owned cannabis production co-op, has the final say.
Although the legalization of adult-use cannabis comes into force on Jan. 1, 2019, residents of Chicago may not have access to purchase their weed from a licensed retailer until July 1.
The Chicago City Council’s Committee on Contracting Equity and Oversight has passed an ordinance to delay sales of recreational cannabis until the summer because of a lack of minority-owned pot shops. The legislation was passed in a 10-9 vote on Tuesday.
“What we have seen here today is one step in the right direction,” the group noted in statement issued Tuesday. “We are going to continue to work together and push for equity. In addition, we are looking forward to continue having ongoing discussions with the state and city. We thank our communities for providing their support and being partners with us throughout these conversations,” it added.
When the state of Illinois was creating the bill to legalize adult-use cannabis, it included multiple provisions in an attempt to ensure that Latinx- and Black-owned businesses had access to the industry, given the disproportionate targeting of those communities during prohibition.
But despite those measures, some activists are concerned that the industry may still be considerably less accessible to racialized entrepreneurs. Although 10 dispensaries have been licensed to sell adult-use cannabis so far, none of them are minority-owned.
Nonetheless, many cannabis activists are pushing against the delay, arguing that the city must be ready for retail in January in line with the rest of the state.
But others, such as former Illinois Deputy Governor Louanner Peters, are supportive of the delay. “It’s an unlevel market for those already in the market,” Peters told NBC Chicago.
Regardless of how council votes, Mayor Lori Lightfoot, who previously advocated for a municipally owned cannabis production co-op, has the final say. The mayor has the power to delay the vote or veto the measure if it is passed this week.
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Written by Emma Spears