Some cannabis dispensaries are planning to open more store fronts in Chicago as the legal weed business continues to grow. But at least one group said new pot shops should pledge more benefits to areas disproportionally impacted by the war on drugs.
“The only way we can begin to reverse some of the damage the war on drugs has created is to give black and brown people an equal opportunity to now create generational wealth as well,” said Shante Brown of Cannabis Equity Illinois Coalition.
Cannabis Equity Illinois Coalition has pledged to support only those dispensaries that sign a community benefits agreement as they seek the city of Chicago’s approval to open a plus-one location to sell recreational cannabis.
The agreements would require that dispensaries hire 75% of their workforce from disproportionately impacted areas, pay all employees a living wage, contract 10% of products and services from minority and social equity businesses, and reinvest 10% of net profits to local community organizations.
So far, only Nature’s Care has agreed to sign the agreement.
“Cannabis operators have a responsibility to make sure that we make up for the impact that has been done by the war on drugs,” said Charles Amadin, general manager of Nature’s Care.
Nature’s Care currently operates a medical cannabis business in Rolling Meadows. It is planning to open a store front at 810 West Randolph in Chicago.
“We believe that our dispensary fits in with the high end retail in that community and we feel that we will be a good neighbor,” Amadin said.
Cresco Labs operates a dispensary in the Lakeview neighborhood of Chicago. It plans to open a dispensary at 436 North Clark Street.
A spokesperson said it has among the strongest social equity initiatives in the cannabis industry.
Chicago’s Department of Planning and Development must approval all cannabis dispensary permits.