HILLSIDE, Ill. – State Rep. Emanuel “Chris” Welch, D-Hillside, called on Gov. J.B. Pritzker to ensure that Black-owned businesses receive truly equitable ownership opportunities in the growing cannabis industry in Illinois.

“It is critical that Black-owned businesses are given a fair shot to compete and succeed in the recreational marijuana market,” Welch said. “As the state prepares to issue social equity licenses for recreational cannabis, Illinois must ensure that those seeking licenses under the guise of being Black-owned businesses are truly owned and operated by African Americans.”

Welch sent a letter to Gov. Pritzker imploring the governor’s administration to prevent social equity licenses from being awarded to companies with straw ownership schemes. Earlier this year, the Cincinnati Enquirer reported that the state of Ohio uncovered straw ownership schemes by companies posing as Black-owned businesses seeking marijuana dispensary licenses. Welch is demanding that the Pritzker administration thoroughly and properly vet companies seeking social equity licenses in Illinois in order to prevent straw ownership schemes from impacting the cannabis market and undermining social equity goals laid out by the state’s landmark legalization of adult use recreational cannabis.

“The fight for racial justice and equal opportunity for African Americans has always been tied directly to economic justice,” Welch said. “At a time when so many across our state and nation have opened their eyes to the challenges facing Black men and women, it is imperative that the Pritzker administration ensure that Black-owned businesses seeking social equity licenses in the marijuana market are truly owned and operated by African Americans.”

Rep. Emanuel Chris WelchRep. Emanuel Chris Welch

7th District
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