As Illinois officials prepare for adult use cannabis sales to go live on Jan. 1, the Chicago mayor’s office Thursday pushed back against aldermen who want to delay sales for six months. Some members of the city council are concerned about a lack of social equity provisions, which were a key part of the state’s adult use law. The mayor’s office also said the city is drafting legislation for consumption licenses.
Paul Stewart, a policy advisor to Mayor Lori Lightfoot, told an auditorium of residents on the city’s West Side that he’s working with members of the Chicago Aldermanic Black Caucus to address concerns over the lack of minority representation in the state’s cannabis industry. But, he said, there’s a “slight disagreement” on the Caucus’ proposal to remedy this, in part, by delaying sales until July 1, 2020.
Ald. Jason Ervin, who proposed the delay, expressed continued concern Wednesday at a meeting of the council’s Committee on Contracting Oversight and Equity.
“While we applaud the city council members for taking a proactive step in bringing this issue to the forefront,” Stewart said, “we also want to work with them in a way that allows the industry to begin as scheduled on Jan. 1.”
“This is the beginning of the industry, not the end,” he added.
Moving on to other licensing priorities, Stewart said the mayor’s office is working on drafting new regulations for public consumption licenses, which would allow for use solely in dispensaries and tobacco shops.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed into law Wednesday a trailer bill to the state’s original adult use law in order to clarify where people can use cannabis in public. Stewart said he expects the city’s public cannabis consumption regulations to look similar to Chicago’s regulations around the public consumption of liquor.
Rosa Escareno, commissioner of the Chicago Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection, said she doesn’t anticipate rules for these licenses to be ready by Jan. 1. Once the legislation is drafted, the city council will have to vote on it.
“We have to work under the strict guidelines as proposed by the state,” Escareno said. “The city is currently working on a consumption structure.”
Chicago currently has 11 dispensaries authorized for adult use on Jan. 1. The city plans to license 49 stores across seven districts in the coming months.