Dispensary 33

CHICAGO — When hoping to break into the cannabis business in the Chicago area, it’s paying off to include “Green” in your name and get some help from Chicago’s Dispensary 33.

Five groups with the same “Green &” name scheme that are registered to an Uptown address tied to Dispensary 33, 4880 N. Clark Street, have cashed in big during the first two state lotteries to award new cannabis dispensary licenses. And the companies could net an even bigger haul on August 19 when 75 more licenses will be issued.

State officials announced the results of a lottery to dispense 55 statewide pot shop licenses Thursday, the second of three lotteries to award 185 recreational dispensary licenses in total, with 119 eligible to open in the Chicago area. 

Thursday’s lottery was created through a state bill passed in the spring and reserved for companies who earned social equity status through the makeup of their ownership team rather than their workforce. Groups were awarded social equity status on their dispensary applications if their majority ownership hailed from areas disproportionately impacted by the drug war or if they, or a family member, had been arrested for cannabis-related offenses.

Among the winners were three different groups with ties to Dispensary 33, an independent Chicago cannabis company with pot shops in Andersonville and the West Loop.Those groups secured a total of 5 permits to open in the Chicago area. A total of five groups registered at Dispensary 33’s former Uptown address have won eight licenses through the first two lotteries.

The connection to Dispensary 33 was first reported by the Grown In cannabis newsletter.

Collectively, the groups made a significant investment to gain licenses in the lucrative industry. Eight companies with a “Green &” name submitted a total of 185 applications. Companies were able to submit multiple applications, but state law limits each to a total of 10 dispensary licenses. 

Submitting an application cost companies $5,000 for each application, but those who achieved social equity status — like all of the “Green &” companies — were able to cut that figure in half to $2,500.

Reached Thursday, co-owner Bryan Zises confirmed Dispensary 33 assisted the companies, but declined to be interviewed, saying it wasn’t right for him to speak on their behalf.

Dispensary 33 does not appear to have a financial stake in the “Green &” companies, according to ownership records.

A Dispensary 33 employee during the first week of legal weed in Illinois. Credit: Dispensary 33/Facebook

Tiffany Taylor, an investor in one of the groups, Green & Bradley, which scored three licenses Thursday, told Block Club that Dispensary 33 “definitely supported us through the entire process,” but that her group was “100 percent grassroots, this is definitely just coming from a group of Black entrepreneurs and Black owners.”

Taylor said a group of “probably over 100” investors, a majority of them African American, “collectively put together all of our resources, including our funds, and backed Theresa Bradley with this application.” 

Theresa Bradley is listed as the manager of the company on state business records and qualified as a social equity applicant. Bradley will have a majority ownership of the company, Taylor said.

“But everything has not been sorted as far as everyone else,” she said. “This is all brand new to us. … This is just the beginning of the road, although we were looking forward to this, now the real work begins.”

They took an “all hands on deck” approach to writing the lengthy and technical applications, including seeking guidance from Dispensary 33. But, Zises and Dispensary 33 “doesn’t have any control” over the future of the company, she said.

The company also received assistance from Brendan Shiller, a civil rights attorney who has worked in the cannabis industry. Before selling dispensaries to Verano Holdings, Shiller was involved with The Herbal Care Center, which had dispensaries on the Near West Side and Greektown.

Shiller said he is a “pro-bono advisor” to ChiCannis, the large group of investors, including Taylor, involved with Green & Bradley, but not the other “Green &” companies.

“I assisted them in this application and they were financially assisted by Dispensary 33, but it is ChiCannis and Theresa Bradley that will control those dispensaries,” he said. 

As for the “Green” in their name, Taylor said it represents “green for cannabis, green for money.”

Green & Bradley was awarded three conditional licenses in the Chicago/Naperville/Elgin region, but will have to forfeit one. Firms were limited to two licenses in Thursday’s lottery, but will be eligible for up to 10 in the August 19 lottery.

It’s unclear the ownership makeup of the other companies — state records list just one person as a manager for each — but they could win an even bigger haul of licenses later this month.

Each of the groups aided by Dispensary 33 achieved perfect scores on their application, which secures a place in the “Tied Applicant Lottery” on August 19 that will award 75 total licenses. In order to earn a perfect score, applicants needed to achieve both social equity status and have a majority shareholder who was a veteran.

Green & Bransford has secured two licenses in the first two lotteries and has 24 applications remaining for the August 19 lottery.

Green & Randle, Green & Williams and Green & Foster have secured one license each during the first two lotteries, leaving them with 24 applications each for the August 19 lottery if they choose to pursue the licenses.

Green & Kinnick, linked to Dispensary 33 employee Anderson Prinz, has yet to win a license but has 25 applications in the August 19 lottery.

Green & Alamo and Green & Campbell have also yet to win a licenses but are eligible on August 19, with 25 and 10 applications respectively.

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