Group of hopeful weed entrepreneurs urges City Council to not delay sales

“You cannot miss the opening of an adult-use market,” said Richard Park, a national consultant on the sale of marijuana.

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Flanked by community activists and supporters, Richard Park, of Cookies California, speaks during a press conference at City Hall to announce the South and West Side Cannabis Coalition, Wednesday morning, Dec. 18, 2019. | Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times

Richard Park of Cookies California speaks during a news conference at City Hall to announce formation of the South and West Side Cannabis Coalition.

Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times

A group of entrepreneurs, many of them African American businessmen, who hope to open recreational marijuana dispensaries in the city urged the City Council’s Black Caucus to rethink a threatened delay of city sales.

The group, speaking in City Hall, say any delay could damage a fledgling industry and could also mean a loss of social equity funds intended to give a boost to minority-owned startups.

“I know the aldermen’s intention on this delay is to ensure there’s a lot of equity for blacks and Latinos in the community, but this delay does not help that — it harms that very intention,” said Willie “J.R.” Fleming, an African American activist who is exploringthe possibility of selling weed in the city.

Fleming, of Hemp for Hoods, formed the South and West Side Cannabis Coalition.

Richard Park, a national consultant on the sale of marijuana, said a fledgling industry needs stability and delaying sales would only hurt that effort.

“You cannot miss the opening of an adult-use market,” Park said. “You cannot make that back up.”

Fleming said a delay would push pot dispensaries into the suburbs, where companies would be hiring predominantly white workers, further harming minority interests.

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