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First year of legal marijuana in Illinois generated big bucks but no new minority license holders

Cannifem represents much of what state lawmakers hoped for when they legalized marijuana in Illinois.

The startup business was formed by three Black women from areas hardest hit by the war on drugs. Yet the group failed to get any of the three cannabis licenses for which it applied. And the women spent tens of thousands of dollars trying.

Now Cannifem represents much of what went wrong with the first year of legalization. Applicants who lawmakers had hoped would get a slice of the lucrative pie feel betrayed. One year after the pot law took effect, no new entrepreneurs have been licensed to open because of problems with scoring the applications.

“It’s a shame. The people they intended to benefit are being left behind,” Cannifem co-founder Nakisha Hobbs said. “The legislators should take every possible step to correct the inequities that still exist to ensure a level playing ground.”

Meanwhile, the industry remains dominated by a few wealthy, white male-owned businesses. And customers have paid the price, initially with product shortages, and then with prices that remain twice as high as in Western states with legal weed. [Read More @ Chicago Tribune]

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