Illinois marijuana industry takes major strides towards equity, state touts, but critics say more work, especially funds, needed – WLS-TV

CHICAGO (WLS) — One of the goals of legalizing marijuana in Illinois was to repair the damage of mass cannabis convictions among people of color. And while some critics say not enough has been done to level the playing field, the state said it’s proud of the steps it’s made over the last four years to make the industry attainable for everyone.

“When cannabis was illegal, 80% of arrests were Black and brown people,” said Matthew Brewer, owner of Grasshopper Club. “My brother was one of the people in the 80% arrested for cannabis possession.”

His brother’s arrest was one of the reasons Brewer wanted to get into the marijuana industry. He is now celebrating his first year as the proud owner of Grasshopper Club, the first independent Black-owned dispensary in Chicago.

“It was a full circle moment when we opened this location and the first purchase ever here was my brother,” he said.

Brewer’s co-owners for the Logan Square shop are his brother Chuck and his mother Dianne. She never could have imagined this venture in her wildest dreams as a Black woman.

When recreational marijuana became legal in Illinois in 2020, the first cannabis businesses to open were 100% majority white-owned, and

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