The Chicago City Council Committee on Contracting Equality and Oversight has approved a measure that would force cannabis sales in the city to be delayed until July 1 because of the lack of minority-owned dispensaries, NBC Chicago reports. The measure would need to be approved by the full city council but, even if it passed, could be vetoed by Mayor Lori Lightfoot.
The Chicago Aldermanic Black Caucus called the narrow 10-9 vote “a step in the right direction” and indicated that they are having “ongoing discussions” with the city and state about equity in the industry.
Pam Althoff, executive director of the Cannabis Business Association of Illinois, told CBS Local that she was surprised by the vote.
“This was not anticipated,” she said in the report.
“We have the city of Chicago making an attempt to stop an industry; a new program; a new opportunity, before it has opportunity to move forward, and to be tested, and to be rolled out.” – Althoff, to CBS Local
In a statement, Lightfoot acknowledged that “unjust and outdated cannabis laws have adversely and disproportionately affected Chicago’s Black and Brown neighborhoods” and that those citizens “need to be among the first to benefit” from cannabis legalization; however, she argued that delaying sales would “have a multitude of unintended consequences including fueling illegal sales.” She said that starting the industry in the summer, when the city needs its public safety resources most, would strip money “from the social equity funds intended to benefit Black and Brown entrepreneurs.”
“I have repeatedly asked the members of the Black Caucus to devise a strategy that addresses equity. Instead, we have been primarily met with a litany of complaints, but no tangible solutions,” Lightfoot said in the statement. “Crossing our arms and walking away is not a tactic, not a strategy and is not only unacceptable but irresponsible.”
Lightfoot’s floor leader told CBS Local that the mayor’s camp believes the Black Caucus has the votes to pass the delay, but Lightfoot has some procedural moves she could utilize to delay the vote. A six-month delay could cost the city $5 million
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