Chicago’s Black aldermen have raised concern over racial issues in Illinois’ nascent recreational cannabis industry. A fraught city council meeting took place Wednesday, on the heels of the news that lawmakers in the nearby town of Evanston have linked cannabis tax revenue to reparations for the Black community. That move was seen as a creative tactic for ensuring that the state’s goals of social equity are met. At the Chicago meeting, local leaders expressed their displeasure that every recreational dispensary that has been approved by the government is run by a white man.
Illinois’ first recreational cannabis stores are set to open their doors on January 1st. In Chicago, the first round of 11 business licenses went to pre-existing medical cannabis companies.
West Loop alderman Walter Burnett Jr. does not see that as an appropriate outcome for an industry that, previously to legalization, saw a highly disproportionate number of people of color policed and incarcerated for their involvement in the marijuana business. In fact, he’s so firm on this point that he’s willing to flex his policy strength to rectify the situation.
“If they don’t have an African-American partner don’t waste your time coming to see me, because I don’t