CHICAGO (CBS) — As recreational marijuana sales continue to pour in millions of dollars in tax revenue in Illinois, a group made a move Thursday to make sure the multimillion-dollar industry doesn’t leave them behind.
As CBS 2’s Jermont Terry reported, Social Equity applicants gathered Thursday night in Bronzeville. The 30 minority applicants were celebrating the huge milestone of putting in their applications to get in the legal pot game.
The drinks were flowing Thursday night at Some Like It Black, 810 E. 43rd St. The lounge’s’ owner, Micah Crawford, can finally breathe easier.
On Thursday morning, Crawford and many others rushed to meet an important deadline.
“The application is 300 to 400 pages long,” she said.
Crawford handed in her application to own a marijuana dispensary. She and other minority applicants are all trying to get in on the now-booming legal business – under social equity.
“A group of over 30 black and brown people walking into a room, where honestly I just didn’t think they expected to see as many of our faces as we they did,” Crawford said.
On New Year’s Day Wednesday, we saw the long lines outside the dispensaries – and in the first day of pot sales, Illinois raked in a grand total of $3,176,256.71.
“I just called my brother and I told him: ‘See? I told you,’” said Fred Spencer.
Spencer is among the group celebrating and hoping to get the license.
“It’s kind of like the new gold rush,” he said.
“I’m looking forward to the next step,” Spencer said.
The next step comes in May, when the state picks the licensees – and those who dropped off the applications will find out if they move on.
“For Illinois to specifically give us a leg up, I think, is wonderful,” Spencer said.
Illinois is the 11th state to legalize recreational marijuana. But the state’s pot czar, Toi Hutchinson, stressed Illinois is the first state to make social equity a necessity.
“This is very intentionally different. So the application process is designed to actually incentivize equity applicants – people who were from communities, and most impacted by the prohibition by the activity we just made legal,” Hutchinson said.
Those who applied on Thursday said they are fully aware there are a limited amount of licenses that the state will hand out in this first round. This has been a four-month or longer process, but many said if they don’t get picked, they will try again.