When adult cannabis was legalized in Illinois, social justice was promised to correct the injustice committed against minority communities as a result of the war on drugs.
But more than a year after the state legalized recreational marijuana, no new license was issued to social justice claimants.
The $ 1 billion industry in Illinois currently consists of 110 pharmacies that got a head start on recreational cannabis because they had a medical license prior to legalization.
These pharmacies received some of the state’s first recreational licenses.
Phillip Chandler, 31, of the Calumet Heights neighborhood of Chicago, is a social justice claimant and one of thousands seeking the opportunity to become a cannabis dispensary entrepreneur.
Chandler, a former gang member arrested for a cannabis crime as a teenager, also sees this as an opportunity to give back to his community by offering a well-paying job at his company.
He spent countless hours filling out the application with the help of mentors and lawyers. He even quit his job to fully devote himself to applying.
But May 2020 came and went without a government decision.
75 licenses should be issued by the state, but until May 2021 there is still no word on when the licenses will be issued.
“Whenever you tell black and brown communities to wait for equality, wait for their chance, the equivalent of calling them the N-word,” said Chandler.
NBC 5 reached out to the state, and a spokesman for Governor JB Pritzker’s office said the pandemic was causing the delays.
The spokesman also said that more than 2,000 applicants are being issued “supplementary deficiency reports” for missing or possibly incorrect information.
Each applicant has 10 days to respond.
After that, the speaker says that a third party has to re-check everyone.
But Pamela Althoff, the executive director of the Illinois Cannabis Business Association, believes there is more to the story.
“It’s a year and I don’t think anything can be ascribed for a whole year,” said Althoff. “The government was still working.”
There is a sign of hope with new laws that might be introduced in Springfield during this term.
In part, this would increase the number of licenses issued to 110 and add two new lotteries to the pool of applicants.
“I think we finally have the attention of the General Assembly,” said Althoff.
Governor Pritzker’s spokesman said he supported the proposal.
She added that the current additional deficiency notices will be reviewed and the state will make an announcement when a date is set for the lottery.
Meanwhile, Chandler has taken on a delivery job at Amazon while waiting for his shot into a new life.
“I just have to keep going until I get the results,” he said. “That’s the only thing I can do because no matter what happens to cannabis, bills don’t stop.”