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Afternoon Edition: Dec. 10, 2021

Today’s update is a 5-minute read that will brief you on the day’s biggest stories.

Reporters Stephanie Zimmerman and Tom Schuba work at Origo Labs in Jefferson Park — a cannabis testing laboratory from the state’s list of registered labs.
Brian Ernst/Sun-Times

Good afternoon. Here’s the latest news you need to know in Chicago. It’s about a 5-minute read that will brief you on today’s biggest stories.

This afternoon will be foggy with a high near 42 degrees and a chance of showers. Tonight will see showers and thunderstorms with a low of around 43 degrees and winds as high as 40 mph. Tomorrow will be cloudy with a high near 42 degrees and a chance of rain and snow.

Top story

What’s in Illinois’ legal weed? Sometimes contaminants, Sun-Times testing finds

What’s in that joint you picked up at your local legal weed shop? In some cases, contaminants like mold and yeast at levels that exceed state safety standards.

That’s what lab tests commissioned by the Chicago Sun-Times found.

And that was for “pre-rolls” for which the marijuana in them had passed muster in state-mandated tests done for growers.

It’s been nearly two years and $1.9 billion in sales since recreational marijuana was legalized in Illinois. And the state has some of the strictest testing standards for cannabis in the nation.

Yet consumers still can’t be certain that the heavily taxed legal weed they buy from state-licensed dispensaries is free from excessive levels of contaminants such as mold, yeast and bacteria, the Sun-Times found.

And, in two of the 10 samples tested, the weed’s potency was found to be far less than advertised — meaning consumers wouldn’t be getting the high they paid for.

The Sun-Times commissioned an independent, state-registered laboratory to test a sampling of one of the most popular recreational marijuana products — pre-rolled joints. That testing found that eight of nine pre-rolled marijuana joints purchased by Sun-Times reporters from Chicago-area dispensaries contained levels of mold, yeast or various types of bacteria that didn’t meet Illinois’ standards for acceptable levels of such contaminants.

That’s even though the weed in those pre-rolled joints had been given a clean bill of health after harvest in state-required testing done for cultivators.

Though the test results were from a small sampling, they mirror the findings of testing that’s been done in other states that found moldy weed for sale to consumers.

Stephanie Zimmermann and Tom Schuba have more in their investigative report here.

More news you need

  1. Last spring, Illinois dispensary workers and consumers noticed there was mold in a popular brand of pre-rolled marijuana joints. But the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation never told the public — it didn’t warn consumers they might have bought tainted weed.
  2. Cook County officials are sending an early warning that next year’s second-installment property tax bills will be seriously delayed — with a potential due date later than taxpayers have seen in a decade. As our Mark Brown explains in his column, the delay could cause headaches for school districts and other taxing bodies that rely on the initial Aug. 1 deadline to meet their financial obligations.
  3. Chicago Police Supt. David Brown promised a beefed-up police presence downtown, telling reporters today, “There will be more of everything.” The announcement follows last weekend’s chaos, when two children were shot as hundreds of youths roamed in and around Millenium Park.
  4. Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s administration is close to a settlement with Anjanette Young, the victim of a botched police raid. The Finance Committee agenda for its meeting Monday includes a settlement with Young but doesn’t say how much it is worth.
  5. After 18 months of darkened theaters due to pandemic shutdowns, veteran Broadway actor Adam Pascal says he’s happy to be back on the road as part of the touring production of “Pretty Woman — The Musical.” Pascal, performing the role of businessman Edward Lewis, will hit the stage with the rest of the cast and crew starting Tuesday for a six-day stint at CIBC Theatre.

A bright one

Local artist Matt Muse hosting hair care benefit drive, concert for Chicagoans

Community empowerment is the engine that drives the work and activism of local artist Matt Muse, whether it’s through promoting self-love and self-care or advocating for organizations aiding people in pivotal moments in their lives.

After the release of his 2019 EP “Love & Nappyness,” Muse and his management team — including friend and collaborator Tara Carsner — launched a community service initiative bearing the same name, with a focus on collecting natural hair care and skin care products for Chicagoans in need.

Muse and a small band of volunteers place drive boxes in various locations throughout the city, before putting a call-out online for donations of sealed and unused natural hair care, skin care and personal hygiene products.

Local hip-hop artist Matt Muse sits in Grant Park yesterday. Muse is celebrating the third year of his “Love & Nappyness” hair and skin care drive with a benefit concert at the Metro next Friday.
Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times

After a monthlong drive — this year’s started Nov. 16 — Muse and company pick up the donations and distribute them to Love & Nappyness Hair Cair Drive’s two beneficiaries. The first organization, St. Leonard’s Ministries, provides housing in addition to job and health resources for formerly incarcerated people re-entering society. The second, Ignite, works with youth experiencing homelessness and helps them on the path to stable housing.

Next Friday, the drive will be capped with a concert at Metro celebrating the Love & Nappyness efforts, with a portion of the proceeds going to the beneficiaries.

Dubbed “The Long Hair Don’t Care Show,” the benefit concert will include a performance from Muse in addition to his close friends Jamila Woods and theMIND, along with other local standouts senite and Hatesonny.

I’ve got the full story on Muse’s drive and upcoming show in my interview with him here.

From the press box

Your daily question ☕

What was the best song of 2021?

Email us (please include your first name and where you live) and we might include your answer in the next Afternoon Edition.

Yesterday, we asked you: How would you describe the Bears-Packers rivalry to someone who isn’t a sports fan?

Here’s what some of you said…

“Imagine a cobra and a mongoose. Both mortal enemies, naturally. Both equally deadly and needs to catch its enemy off guard to destroy — similar to what the Bears will do to Green Bay Sunday! Green Bay will be off their guard!” — Ed Lins

“I hate the Packers and I don’t talk to Packers fans until after the season.” — Paul Genske

“Wile E. Coyote vs. Roadrunner. I will let you guess which team is always getting blown up, run over, shot by a cannon or launched into outer space.” — Barry White

“It’s like John Gustafson and Max Goldman from “Grumpy Old Men.” They don’t know why they hate each other, but they do.” — Chris Arnold

“Like a rivalry between a bug and a windshield.” — Shawn Duggan

Thanks for reading the Chicago Afternoon Edition. Got a story you think we missed? Email us here.

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