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Hyde Park, Woodlawn, South Shore

Expungement Clinic, Job Fair Saturday Aims To Help Those Hurt By The War On Drugs Benefit From Legal Weed Business

People can get help clearing non-violent offenses, find jobs and learn how social equity applicants can enter the industry.

Residents get help clearing their non-violent records at an NDICA expungement clinic and job fair Sept. 23 at Third Wave Coffee, 1035 W. Lake St.
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WASHINGTON PARK — The nonprofit National Diversity and Inclusion Cannabis Alliance (NDICA) will host an expungement clinic and job fair Saturday in Bronzeville.

The clinic, from noon-2 p.m. Saturday, will be held at the Bronzeville Incubator coworking space at 5061 S. Prairie Ave. It’s the second NDICA clinic in the city in recent months, following one in September in the West Loop.

Those interested in attending the expungement clinic and job fair can sign up here.

Staff will be on hand to provide legal assistance and help residents process expungements and seal the records of their non-violent convictions.

Companies like Grassroots Cannabis and clinic sponsor Element 7 will also be hiring at the event.

“Everything in the mainstream is also needed in cannabis, like human resources or public relations,” NDICA executive director Bo Money said. “It’s not just, ‘We need a budtender or trimmer.’ There’s all types of opportunities.”

The clinic will also provide information on the state’s efforts to ensure equity as recreational weed becomes legal Jan. 1, Money said.

In September, Illinois unveiled its map of areas disproportionately impacted by the War on Drugs.

Two million residents live in these areas, and can qualify as “social equity applicants” in the cannabis licensing process if their business is majority-owned by people who:

  • have lived in a disproportionately impacted area in five of the past 10 years;
  • have been arrested for or convicted of cannabis-related offenses eligible for expungement; or
  • have a parent, child or spouse who has been arrested for or convicted of cannabis-related offenses.

Businesses are also eligible if they employ more than 10 full-time workers, and more than half of those workers meet the above criteria.

Social equity applicants are eligible for a variety of benefits from the state, like loans, technical assistance and help with their license application.

Illinois’ social equity program is a “really good plan,” Money said, and the clinic is intended to publicize this information in an accessible way.

The organization also wants to ensure bad actors don’t try and take advantage of the program.

In Los Angeles, one of NDICA’s focus areas, the social equity program has a majority-ownership rule similar to Illinois’. Some investors have signed contracts with social equity applicants that effectively bypass the rule, Money said.

While the business may technically be majority-owned by the applicant, “management fees” or rent costs can be put in place to ensure the investors actually see the most of the profits.

“What we’ve found problematic is there’s a lot of misinformation out there; predatory investors and groups prey on social equity investments,” Money said. “People need to be truly informed to know what to look out for.”

To further its educational efforts, NDICA plans to open an incubator in Chicago in the next month, similar to its existing operation in Los Angeles, Money said.

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