Controversy surrounds ownership of weed dispensaries in Chicago

Residents got their chance to ask questions and get some answers ahead of the legalization of marijuana in Chicago.

Thursday night was the first of two meetings planned in the city.

In a little more than three weeks, recreational marijuana use will be legal in the state, but there is cannabis controversy brewing in the city of Chicago over who will be your weed dealer.

Fifty people showed up for the city’s informational meeting on recreational marijuana at Malcolm X College. Overwhelmingly, many people had the same question that is being echoed across the state: who owns the dispensaries?

“On January 1st, these 11 are the only locations that will sell recreational cannabis,” said Paul Stewart, policy advisor for the mayor’s office.

Here is the problem: there are no black owned dispensaries in the state. In Chicago, not one woman -- or black or brown person -- owns a location.

Chicago residents like Shameka Turner want to know where the equity is.

“Everyone looks like the opposite of who’s been harmed and they’re ready to start January 1st,” Turner said.

The city says more licenses will be awarded May of 2020 and the goal is to make sure that that group is diverse.

Alderman of the 27th Ward Walter Burnett Junior agrees with members from City Council’s Black Caucus to stall and roll out recreational marijuana in July because of the lack of diversity.

“People are outraged about it. It is very insensitive to have 11 white males and they will be able to get another dispensary. It’s like give me a break. All those guys are going to get the best spots,” Burnett said.

The next public meeting will be at Chicago State University on Friday at 6 p.m.