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Will Legal Weed Be Delayed? Black Aldermen Force A Vote Next Week Because All Dispensary Owners Are White

“This is a travesty,” said Ald. Jason Ervin, the chair of City Council Black Caucus. “If equity is to be one of our north stars, this is not it."

Ald. Jason Ervin represents the 28th Ward.
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CITY HALL — Ald. Jason Ervin (28th) invoked a rarely-used rule to force a vote on a proposal that would prohibit the sale of pot in Chicago until July 1 in order to ensure that firms owned by people who were hurt by drug laws can profit from the sale of cannabis.

Ervin filed a notice with City Clerk Anna Valencia invoking Rule 41 of the council’s regulations, which permits an item that has not been acted on for 60 days to be called for a vote if it wins a majority vote of all aldermen on Wednesday.

That will force a vote on the measure authored by Ervin and co-sponsored by 19 other aldermen at Wednesday’s City Council meeting — the last scheduled meeting before the sale of marijuana becomes legal on Jan. 1. Mayor Lori Lightfoot opposes the measure, making it a long shot to pass.

Ervin did not respond to a request for comment from The Daily Line on Thursday.

RELATED: West Loop Alderman’s Message To Weed Dispensary Owners: Get A Black Partner Or Don’t Come To My Ward

At a Dec. 4 hearing, black aldermen unleashed a stream of grievances aimed at the plan state lawmakers crafted to allow the legal sale of marijuana. With state-licensed medical marijuana dispensaries getting the first wave of recreational marijuana licenses, all 11 firms permitted to sell weed on Jan. 1 in Chicago are owned by white men.

“This is a travesty,” said Ervin, the chair of City Council Black Caucus, during the hearing. “If equity is to be one of our north stars, this is not it. This is not it.”

City officials were working to ensure as many black- and Latino-owned firms apply to the state for the next wave of licenses, officials said. The deadline to apply for those 75 licenses — which are set aside for what the state calls “social equity applicants” — is Jan. 2. Those firms can also apply for business loans to get off the ground, state officials said.

That means the earliest firms owned by Black or Latino Chicagoans could sell legal weed would be May 1, officials said.  

State officials have also pledged to conduct a study to determine whether those profiting from the legal cannabis market reflect the state’s demographics.

Ervin and the other members of the Black Caucus forced Lightfoot in October to change her initial zoning plan on where legal sales would be allowed, requiring many dispensaries to get zoning approval from the City Council  amid rising concerns that Black and Latino firms would lag behind those allowed to start selling weed on Jan. 1.

RELATED: Dispensary Lottery So White: With No Black Owners In The Mix, Black Caucus Could Move To Stall Weed Sales

DAILY LINE COVERAGE: ‘This is a travesty:’ Black aldermen blast lack of Black cannabis dispensary owners but fail to stall Jan. 1 salesBlack aldermen push to stall weed sales over lack of Black dispensary owners