When recreational marijuana was legalized in Illinois more than a year ago, Gov. J. B. Pritzker’s stated goal was to use the burgeoning cannabis industry to reverse the harm done to primarily Black and brown populations during the war on drugs.
However, those profiting from pot sales in Illinois have been nearly all white men, a problem Pritzker hoped to fix by awarding social equity dispensary licenses. That effort has been hampered by lawsuits and criticism of the scoring process.
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Pritzker hoped to address some of those problems with House Bill 1443, which he signed into law this week. But Chicago State University cannabis educator Deborah Dillon says the legislation presents new problems.
“I think that the process as it was originally designed, where they were going to be two lotteries — one for the veteran-led teams and one for the non-veteran led teams — was going to be the perfect solution,” Dillon said. “However, as a result of HB1443 it seems that the veteran-led teams have three bites at the apple as opposed to just two since they’ve added a third lottery.”
Richard Wallace is the founder and executive director of Equity and Transformation Chicago, a nonprofit