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First Social Equity Dispensaries Open in Chicago!

The first two social equity cannabis dispensaries in Illinois have now opened up in Chicago, and here are the details!

Bucktown's Ivy Hall Damen, has a leadership team that is 61% Black. Co-Founder Nigel Dandridge explained why the opening is so important.

"We've been working to get a seat at the table for a while now, and we're finally able to do that," Dandridge said. "When this industry first opened up, we didn't see anyone in our community benefiting, or even being able to participate. So it was kind of hypocritical."

"I think it's important that we can show you what we're doing. We want everyone to benefit. Our staff's been working hard, and we're just excited to share it with everyone," he said.

Green Rose Dispensary in River North also opened up, with an ownership team that is two-thirds Black and Latino. Green Rose qualified for an equity permit by hiring employees who had minor marijuana-related convictions or live in areas with high rates of MJ arrests or poverty. Its owners include Thomas Wheeler Jr., a former Chicago police detective and narcotics-unit veteran.

Critics have said allowing businesses to qualify for the social equity program by hiring qualified employees, rather than qualified ownership, allows well-heeled businesses to benefit from Illinois’s equity program.

Gov. JB Pritzker, who recently unveiled a social equity loan program, has admitted that the state’s cannabis industry is predominately white-owned.

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