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City Announces 'Cannabis Resource Fair' On Saturday To Help Chicagoans Navigate Legal Weed Industry

CHICAGO (CBS) -- The city will host a "Cannabis Resource Fair" on Saturday to help people find jobs and business opportunities in the burgeoning recreational marijuana industry, and learn about their rights under the new state law.

The free event will be held at the UIC Forum, 725 W. Roosevelt Rd., from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot will kick off the fair with a panel discussion including Illinois State Rep. Kelly Cassidy, who sponsored the law legalizing marijuana in Illinois, and Simply Pure CEO Wanda James, who is the first African-American licensed to own a pot dispensary in the U.S.

During the fair, people can get information on how the state's new marijuana laws affect them, receive assistance expunging prior pot-related convictions, and find out about job and ownership opportunities in the industry.

"Ensuring this emerging industry brings unprecedented economic and social benefits to our communities has been at the heart of our efforts since day one," Lightfoot said in a statement. "By working hand-in-hand with city and state officials, community advocates, and industry partners and providing residents with the resources they need to succeed, we can empower those interested in becoming the next employee, business owner or investor in Chicago's newest industry."

Saturday's resource fair also will include a "Know Your Rights" panel discussion led by Toi Hutchison, the governor's chief marijuana policy adviser.

Other panels will include:

  • An overview on how to start a cannabis dispensary, craft-growing operation, or other marijuana-related business;
  • A discussion on the process of expunging old pot-related convictions;
  • A talk on contracting opportunities, such as construction, security, electrical work, or HVAC in the cannabis industry;
  • An overview on the skills, training, and certification needed for various jobs in the industry;
  • And advice on navigating the required city processes for starting a cannabis business.

In December, Lightfoot staved off an effort by members of the City Council Black Caucus to delay the rollout of recreational marijuana in Chicago by six months, because of complaints about a lack of minority ownership in the pot industry.

Earlier this month, the mayor delayed a vote on an ordinance that would have allowed tobacco shops, cigar bars, and hookah lounges to permit customers to use marijuana on the premises. Several aldermen have said the restrictions required by state law would make it too difficult for those businesses to actually profit from allowing on-site marijuana use, and that not enough qualifying businesses exist on the South and West Sides.

Marijuana has been legal in Illinois since Jan. 1, when a state law took effect allowing anyone 21 or older to purchase and use marijuana for recreational purposes. Medical cannabis already had been legal in Illinois since 2014.


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