CHICAGO (CBS) — As Illinois moves forward licensing dispensaries for legalized marijuana, minorities said they are getting left out of opportunities because of the high cost.
But as CBS 2’s Jermont Terry reported Wednesday night, an effort launched on the West Coast seeks to change that.
On the Southwest Side near 103rd Street and Beverly Avenue, there is a bit of anxiety for Danny Joe Sorge – owner of the Melloswing Barber Shop.
“64th and Hope is going to be the name of the dispensary,” Sorge said.
Sorge hopes to add a new title to his entrepreneurial résumé.
“I’m going to demand my space in this cannabis lane,” he said.
Sorge is one of the 30 who gained a huge financial boost to submit applications to own a cannabis dispensary.
“Hopefully, all things will line up, so I’ll be one of the first in Illinois to help erase some stigmas and shape the narrative of what it will truly mean to represent equality in Illinois cannabis,” Sorge said.
A Los Angeles company, 4thMVMT (“fourth movement”), is helping 30 hopefuls here in Chicago.
The business will drop up to $2 million per applicant to help them get their foot within the cannabis door, under Illinois’ social equity clause.
“That’s exactly what we’re trying to do,” said Ralina Shaw of 4thMVMT. “We’re trying to bridge that gap.”
4thMVMT would have a stake in Sorge’s marijuana dispensary. But if Sorge is approved, he will remain majority owner.
Without 4thMVMT, Sorge said, “In a nutshell, no, I would not have made it this far.”
Even former state Sen. Toi Hutchinson, the Illinois pot czar, acknowledges getting over the financial hump is the hardest part. She talked to CBS 2’s Vince Gerasole recently.
Gerasole: “Wow, I have to have maybe hundreds of thousands of dollars up front?”
Hutchinson: “Yes, it’s frustrating.”
<strong.Gerasole: “But that’s the best we can say to them?”
Hutchinson: “That is pretty much the only thing we can say to them, that is, this is difficult industry to get into. It just is.”
Sorge and other applicants went through six weeks of business training with 4thMVMT. The applicants were not required to put up a dime.
Sorge will know by May 1 if he is moving forward in the process.