Marijuana businesses set to expand in downtown Chicago after city eases limits

Marijuana retailers will have a larger presence in Chicago after the City Council passed a contested proposal to ease zoning requirements for cannabis businesses. The Chicago City Council voted 33-13 to lift the cap of seven cannabis zones in the city with a limit on the number of dispensaries allowed in each zone. The approved proposal will also narrow the downtown “exclusion zone” where dispensaries can’t open.


Marijuana license winners in Illinois now compete in ‘Shark Tank’-like scramble to get startup cash

In the recent competition for cannabis business licenses in Illinois, Ambrose Jackson’s team struck gold. They won rights to both grow and sell their own cannabis. Jackson is quitting his health care management job to commit full time to becoming a legal marijuana business owner.

But he’s anxious about it, because now the hard part starts for license holders — hustling for funding. Like contestants on the TV show “Shark Tank,” they must sell themselves and their plans to get the millions of dollars they need to get started.


More dispensaries would be allowed in downtown Chicago under new plan

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Aldermen advanced Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s proposal Wednesday to ease Chicago zoning rules to open marijuana dispensaries, which the mayor says would make it easier for minority applicants get into a lucrative business now dominated locally by white-owned companies.

Lightfoot’s plan would open up much more of the downtown area to allow marijuana businesses to set up shop.


Illinois to Hold Lottery Specifically for Those Kept Out of the Industry

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Illinois plans to hold an extra licensing lottery to give the applicants left out of the process another chance.

Illinois will launch a new lottery program specifically for the six applicants who did not make it, so that they will now have another shot at winning and being able to operate their own recreational cannabis stores. This official new lottery was announced this past Friday, and it already has the new market buzzing with possibilities. 


Cannabis smoking lounges off to successful start in Illinois

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Cannabis smoking lounges, slow to open in Illinois since marijuana was legalized last year, are starting to get off the ground, as two have opened and more are planned across the state.

In addition to bring-your-own marijuana consumption sites operating in DeKalb and Sesser, plans are in the works to open locations in West Peoria and Carbondale.


Bill aims to ban workplace firings for positive marijuana tests


SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WICS/WRSP) — Marijuana may be legal for recreational use in Illinois, but that doesn't mean your workplace can't test you for it and fire you if your results are positive. A newly introduced bill in the General Assembly aims to change that.

HB 4116 would ban employers from firing or refusing to hire employees based solely on a positive marijuana test.

Only low-level amounts of marijuana in an employee's system would be tolerated under the new law.

Low level would be a minimum of 5 nanograms per milliliter of blood or 10 nanograms per milliliter in bodily fluids like saliva.

Marijuana is still federally illegal, so those with federal employers or contracts would not be covered under the bill.


Illinois sees record pot sales, with boost from Lollapalooza music festival

Thousands of out-of-state fans converged on Chicago for the four-day event, boosting sales by as much as 50 percent at nearby dispensaries.

Illinois dispensaries sold a record $127.8 million in recreational marijuana in July, with a big boost coming from out-of-state fans who converged on Chicago for the Lollapalazoo music festival.

The month’s sales were 10% higher than May’s record of $116.4 million, which were slightly higher than June’s $115.6 million, according to a monthly report by the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation.

Business boomed at Chicago-area cannabis dispensaries during the four-day Lollapalooza festival, which ended Sunday and which returned after last year’s event was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.


Worker shortage forcing employers to reconsider marijuana testing

Tammy Turner and Kerry Buffington, the co-owners of Kapstone Employment Services in Detroit, had to have a conversation with a client recently that they're not used to having.

"We actually had to go to them and say, 'Listen, this is not being consistent with the labor market now. Marijuana is legal and you're passing up on good talent,' " Turner remembers telling the client.

Turner said they were interviewing candidates for open positions at this company, and staff at their employment agency ask candidates whether they can pass a drug test as a part of their routine questions. She said, more often than not, candidates are honest and will say whether they would test positive for marijuana.


Illinois Adult-Use Cannabis Sales Hit Nearly $128 Million in July

Illinois adult-use cannabis sales have hit yet another record, reaching $127.8 million in July, about a $12.3 million increase from June, which reported over $115.5 million in recreational sales.

According to a monthly report by the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation, over $85.4 million of those sales came from in-state residents, while more than $42.3 million came from out-of-state residents.


Some pot license winners now looking to sell to highest bidder

The applicants waited for more than a year for a chance to jump into Illinois’ booming weed industry.

But now that they have won lucrative licenses to open marijuana dispensaries, craft grow operations or other related businesses, some could sell the licenses before ever opening up — potentially collecting millions in the process.

With the state’s troubled pot licensing process careening toward a conclusion, corporatized weed firms and other cash-rich buyers are now expected to go after the new licenses — many of which are slated to go to so-called social equity applicants, a designation created to boost diversity in the lily-white weed industry.


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