Statement from Alderman Pat Dowell on No Vote on Ordinance O2019-8063 – Amending Municipal Code Chapter 7-24 to prohibit certain Adult-Use Cannabis business establishments
“First, let me state that I am appalled that the current cannabis law does not provide equity in the cannabis industry for minority communities. For too long, communities of color like the ones I represent have been victims of systemic racism and shut out of meaningful economic opportunities. The first wave of cannabis licenses issued by the State of Illinois continues that systemic inequality. It is unfair and I’m committed to righting this wrong.
“We as a City Council have already taken meaningful steps to ensure equity in this industry moving forward. The changes we made to the Chicago Zoning Code guarantee that aldermen are allowed to fully vet cannabis businesses before opening to promote equity applicants and equity partners in our wards. That is a good first step. But as these licenses are carefully rolled out, we need to make sure equity applicants have the ability to compete and win licenses in order to open their own businesses side-by-side their white, male counterparts.
“However, the ordinance to delay the sales of cannabis in Chicago until July 1st does not move the needle on equity. That is why I voted no. The State licensed cannabis businesses that are currently operating citywide have already jumped ahead of the rest of the pack. The train has left the station. Cannabis as a business is up and running in Chicago. The lesson here is that the City Council has to work hand-in-hand with our colleagues in Springfield before critical legislation is passed at the state level. Together with the state we can craft laws that better promote the ideals that we as a city all share.
“To that end, I am encouraged by the recent negotiations between the City and Springfield. This conversation shows that when we speak loudly as a body, even if we disagree on how, our voices are heard statewide.
“I appreciate the efforts of my colleagues on the Black Caucus and especially Alderman Jason Ervin, who spearheaded this conversation on equity in the cannabis industry. We can get this right. As Chairman of the Committee on the Budget and Government Operations and Alderman of the 3rd Ward, I will do everything I can to make sure that this burgeoning industry is one that leads the way on racial equity.”
This measure failed to pass City Council by a 19 yay to 29 nay vote. The complete recording of the vote can be found at www.chicityclerk.com.