The winners of the latest batch of 55 precious pot shop permits includes former NBA stars Allen Iverson and Al Harrington, Cook County Commissioner Bridget Degnen, longtime news anchor Robin Robinson and the indicted son of ex-state Rep. Eddie Acevedo.
Iverson and Harrington are both partnered in Viola Brands, a Los Angeles-based weed firm that already operates in four other states. The company’s subsidiary, Vill – Ops Inc., was named the winner of a license in a region that covers Chicago.
Dan Pettigrew, Viola’s co-founder, didn’t respond to a request for comment.
Degnen, who previously served as the deputy director of the state agency that regulates dispensaries, is affiliated with AmeriCanna Dream LLC, which notched a win in a region near St. Louis, Missouri. In a statement, Degnen said she has “worked diligently to ensure our work for equity and fairness in the cannabis space is ethical and transparent.”
“I am also pleased that the Cook County Board of Ethics and an independent legal review have both concluded my work in the cannabis licensing process is in full compliance with the important ethics rules of Cook County government,” she added.
Degnen’s chief of staff and another ex-pot regulator, Tara Meyer, is also involved with the pot startup. Reached by email, Meyer only confirmed she’s still a partner.
Acevedo’s son, Alex, and his group, Latino Veterans Health and Revival LLC, also earned a license in the Chicago region. Alex Acevedo, who previously launched a failed bid for alderman, was hit with tax charges stemming from the probe of lobbying practices of Commonwealth Edison, along with his father and brother. They have all pleaded not guilty.
Through his attorney, Acevedo declined to comment.
Robinson, a local Fox anchor for decades, is a member of The Homecoming Group, which also scored a permit in the Chicago region. Her daughter and business partner, Jade Williams, said the group’s concept is to build a dispensary around a charitable component and to support causes like adult literacy and STEM education.
“We’re all really excited. It’s been a long time,” Williams said of the lengthy licensing process.
In addition, a large chunk of the latest dispensary license winners has existing ties to the cannabis industry. Matt Estep, the co-founder of the Chicago weed giant Green Thumb Industries, is linked to firms that have now won five of the 110 licenses that have been announced over the past two weeks. He hasn’t responded to requests for comment.
Edie Moore, the influential executive director of Chicago NORML, is partnered in a group that’s grabbed two of the licenses. Moore offered a concise response to the news: “Thrilled. Stunned. Thankful.”
A court order in a pending lawsuit has, however, blocked the formal issuance of the pot shop permits for now.
A third and final dispensary lottery for 75 more licenses is scheduled for Aug. 19.