A Black-owned cannabis dispensary is now open in Chicago, but nearly 200 other shops that won state social equity licenses have yet to open their doors.
The lag time raises the question of whether Illinois has followed through on its pledge to use legal marijuana to lift communities and people who were previously punished by anti-cannabis laws.
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Nearly three years after Illinois legalized marijuana, Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Wednesday celebrated the opening of Ivy Hall Dispensary in Bucktown.
In mid-November, Ivy Hall became Illinois’ first social equity dispensary. Co-founder Nigel Dandridge says being the first social equity cannabis dispensary to open in the state is momentous.
“I am living proof of Illinois making good on its promise to carve out a more equitable cannabis landscape for generations to come,” he said. “Yet again, Illinois is out ahead of the pack.”
Illinois has pursued righting the wrongs of the war on drugs by expunging 800,000 low-level marijuana possession charges from criminal records, “creating a new opportunity for tens of thousands of Illinoisians – mostly people of color – to get a job, or rent an apartment that they were previously denied because of their record,” Pritzker said.