Watch CBS News

First two social equity marijuana dispensaries in Illinois open in Chicago

CBS News Live
CBS News Chicago Live

CHICAGO (CBS) -- The first two social equity marijuana dispensaries in Illinois opened ther doors in Chicago.

Ivy Hall Damen, in Bucktown, had its first transaction Friday followed by a grand opening on Monday. Its ownership team is 61% Black. Green Rose Dispensary opened Saturday in River North.  


Recreational marijuana use and sales have been legal in Illinois since the start of 2020, but until now, every dispensary that has opened in Illinois has been operated by ownership teams that are mostly white.

Even though the law legalizing recreational marijuana in Illinois included so-called "social equity" licenses set aside for businesses led by minorities, who were hardest hit by the war on drugs, those applicants found it difficult to actually break into the industry.

Lawsuits over the lottery for minority marijuana business owners led to years of delays in actually issuing those licenses.

This past September, advocates and state lawmakers gathered in the West Loop, calling on Gov. JB Pritzker and state regulators to cut the red tape and help business owners get those social equity cannabis licenses.

On Friday, Ivy Hall Damen became among the first of such minority-owned dispensary to open in Illinois.

Ivy Hall Damen will have a variety of products, including edibles and vaporizers.

Co-founder and chief strategy officer Nigel Dandridge explained why Monday's opening is so important.

"We've been working to get a seat at the table for a while now, and we're finally able to do that," Dandridge said. "When this industry first opened up, we didn't see anyone in our community benefiting, or even being able to participate. So it was kind of hypocritical."

Dandridge said the hope is to expand even further from here.

"I think it's important that we can show you what we're doing. We want everyone to benefit. Our staff's been working hard, and we're just excited to share it with everyone," he said.

In addition, Green Rose Dispensary is now located at 612 N. Wells Ave. and offers a "one-of-a-kind cannabis experience." 

Green Rose's management and ownership team includes members of the Black, Latinx, veteran and LGBTQ+ communities. Owners said the management team is two-thirds Black and Latinx. 

"We've been able to attract top talent from some of Illinois largest multi-state operators because of our vision, energy and commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion," Green Rose management said. 

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.