Legal weed survives push to delay sales

After a dramatic showdown on the City Council floor today—one of the biggest tests of Mayor Lightfoot's administration so far— aldermen thwarted a call from black council members to halt recreational marijuana sales for six months.

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79彩票注册网址Recreational marijuana will go on sale in Chicago on Jan. 1 after a dramatic showdown on the City Council floor today, one of the biggest tests of Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s administration so far. Aldermen defeated an effort to delay pot sales in a 29-19 vote.

79彩票注册网址The debate and parliamentary maneuvering lasted over an hour, ending in a final face-off between Lightfoot and Ald. Jason Ervin, 28th, the chair of the Chicago Aldermanic Black Caucus.

The lack of minority ownership in the state’s marijuana industry has been a flashpoint in the legalization debate. One compromise in the 610-page marijuana law has been a particular sore spot: Current medical marijuana license holders—companies largely led by white men—were given automatic recreational licenses for existing medical dispensaries, plus a recreational dispensary.

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That head start was unacceptable for members of the Black Caucus, who argued the city and state should give more direct assistance to communities most impacted by the war on drugs. Ervin pointed out that some of his council colleagues seemed to agree black and brown communities were starting off at a disadvantage. 

“Who goes into something believing you’re going to fail? Why would we do such a thing?" he said. "I think it would be irresponsible for us not to ask for equity while one party’s being granted a huge privilege.”

“The only people that benefit from this deal are the white people,” said Ald. Leslie Hairston, 5th. “Once again, we get thrown into jails and they get thrown into banks.”

79彩票注册网址But Ervin’s push garnered criticism from Gov. J.B. Pritzker's office and state lawmakers who negotiated the bill’s equity components. 

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While a broad coalition of aldermen supported the delay, the 20-member Black Caucus itself did not stick together—a point Lightfoot made after the vote, swatting back concerns about a modern iteration of Council Wars, a time of racially divisive City Hall conflict in the 1980s.

“I don’t think this was about me and them,” she told reporters after the vote. “Sometimes you just have to take a win. That’s what today is about.”

79彩票注册网址“If we’re going to cave into this, then we don’t need to have a Black Caucus, and I’ll be the first one to leave it,” Ald. David Moore, 17th, warned. After the meeting, he confirmed he was no longer a member.

Ervin did not express lingering bad feelings toward the mayor after the debate, saying he was disappointed in the results but heartened by the fact that Pritzker had committed to adding two social equity dispensary licenses in Chinatown and Hyde Park.

Separately, Lightfoot introduced a pair of ordinances that would allow on-site consumption locations in Chicago, and . Such establishments, which might include cafes and lounges, serve as a potentially easier entryway into the cannabis industry.

This does not mean the dispensary battle is over. Zoning Committee Chairman Tom Tunney, 44th, delayed an application from Cresco Labs to relocate its Lakeview medical marijuana dispensary, MedMar, to a larger space. Cresco faced pushback from aldermen about a lack of black ownership and bumped up against state law that only grants recreational licenses to dispensaries at their current sites. 

Tunney says now that the fate of recreational city sales is settled, he expects to take up Cresco's application next month. He says it still has to clear the city’s Zoning Board of Appeals.

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WHAT ELSE HAPPENED TODAY?

  • Ethics changes – Without debate, aldermen okayed rules to “stop the bullshit” and ban elected officials from other government bodies from lobbying them on behalf of private clients. It would also ban aldermen from lobbying other bodies. Among the banned group? Sen. President John Cullerton (who is retiring in January), Cook County Comm. Larry Suffredin, state Rep. Jaime Andrade, Gyata Kimmons, a village trustee for suburban Flossmoor, and state Sen. Elgie Sims. Sims’ clients in Chicago include Foster Moore, Tower International, Inc., and Gartner, Inc. He’s also a member of the governor’s ethics task force to revamp the state’s lobbying rules. That group’s .
  • New CDOT head – Mayor Lightfoot formally introduced her appointment of Gia Biagi to helm the city’s Department of transportation. Biagi, a veteran of the Chicago Park District, is a “Principal of Urbanism & Civic Impact” Studio Gang, the architecture and urban design firm founded by architect Jeanne Gang.
  • Halt on 606 development? – Ald. Roberto Maldonado (26th) and Ald. Carlos Ramirez Rosa (35th) introduced a resolution calling for a halt to rezones, building and demolition permits near the 606 trail between February, 2020 and March 2021 for time to commission a “study to examine housing instability and methods needed to stabilize housing and promote community preservation.” Gentrification and rising property values are a political hot potato in the area
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