CHICAGO (CBS) —  Day one of legal recreational pot sales is in the books, and there are some pretty impressive numbers.

Day one of Illinois pot sales by the numbers:

*77,128 transactions

*$3,176,256.71 in total sales

Hundreds of applicants arrived at the Thompson Center Thursday hoping to cash in on recreational pot. Thursday was the deadline for entrepreneurs to apply for the next round of 75 dispensary licenses to be awarded by May.

CBS 2’s Vince Gerasole has the story of one applicant hoping to make high profits.

Since last summer, Dr. Anthony King and son Ezikiel have been bonding at the dining room table – all over legal weed.

“We stayed up until 2:00 a.m. and then waking up at 8:00 a.m.,” King said.

They’ve come up with floor designs and security plans for a dispensary, consulting with architects and attorneys.

“We learned by traveling to other states, a couple of different countries,” King said.

The pair went behind the scenes to grow houses and pot shops in California, and learned about cannabis sales in the Netherlands, Spain and other points in Europe.

“It literally took several months,” King said.

It all filtered into their business plan for a state marijuana license. King is a successful West Loop dentist. Just to get this far, he’s spent nearly $70,000 of his own money.

“Today was pretty stressful because the lines were long,” King said.

He was among the hundreds of hopefuls turning in applications Thursday at the Thompson Center for the next round of 75 marijuana licenses to be awarded by May.

“I am elated that it’s over,” King said.

There was a noticeable minority presence in the crowd Thursday. This is the first opportunity many had to take advantage of the state’s Social Equity program. Applicants from distressed communities with 51% minority ownership in their businesses can earn more extra points leading to licences approval.

“I think most of the Social Equity applicants will be used,” King said.

He added that many minorities, including himself, were approached by well-heeled investors, hoping to piggyback on their status.

“Most of the people that are getting approached are because of A) where they live, B) because they have an arrest record or because someone else can use them as a pawn and I didn’t want that to happen,” King said.

If granted a license to operate, King said he’ll still need to spend 1.5 to 2 million dollars to open a dispensary. And though he feels well-researched and prepared, there’s no guarantee his proposal will make the cut.

“I feel that even if I failed, I didn’t fail. I learned. I’ll just be ready for the next round.”

Applications are subject to a blind review. The state won’t know the names of those applying, just their qualifications. Dr. King put down his experience with patients and managing a dental practice as a plus.

The lack of minority ownership was cause for concern with Chicago City Council’s Black Caucus. The process that ended Thursday is supposed to help level that playing field.

 

Vince Gerasole