CHICAGO (CBS) — Recreational marijuana becomes legal in Illinois next year, but on Tuesday, what seemed like a routine City Council Zoning Committee vote was suddenly blocked when the Black Caucus demanded a closed-door meeting.
Ald. Jason Ervin (28th), the chairman of the Chicago Aldermanic Black Caucus, has called for recreational marijuana sales in the city to be postponed until July 1 of next year, so that “more equitable solutions” from the industry can be found.
The caucus said under the current plan presented by the Department of Planning & Development will allow 11 existing businesses to use their current sites to begin selling recreational marijuana in the first year of legalization. The same 11 businesses will be given an opportunity to open a second recreational site in the spring – before any new businesses even get a change to bid, the caucus said.
None of the owners of the existing 11 businesses is African-American, the caucus said.
The caucus said on Wednesday, it plans to introduce an ordinance that would put sales on hold for six months in Chicago. The caucus will hold a news conference Wednesday morning.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s current plan splits Chicago into seven zones, with a maximum number of stores selling recreational marijuana in each. The purpose of the City Council Zoning Committee meetings had been to vote on the plan.
The plan bans sales in most of downtown Chicago and within 500 feet of a school. Under Illinois law, existing medical marijuana dispensaries will be allowed to sell recreational pot.
The debate Tuesday night lingered into the evening hours and is set to reconvene at 9 a.m.
Recreational marijuana officially becomes legal in Illinois on Jan. 1 of next year.