Pot and equity

Opinion: Editorials

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There are many reasons we support legalizing the recreational use of marijuana. At the top though is the opportunity it presents to fully reset decades of racially abusive prosecution of black people for using pot the exact same way white people did but winding up in jail, with a record and with lives in the ditch.

There is no explanation for this beyond systemic racism in policing, in prosecuting, in jailing. This was never an unintended consequence. It was the plan. And it worked. Until now.

We were exuberant over New Year's as Gov. J.B. Pritzker concurrently oversaw the legalization of weed and the purging of the criminal records of 11,000 fellow Illinois residents who had been caught up in this nefarious scheme.

That's why the state's application process for the 75 precious licenses to sell recreational pot that will be issued by spring includes a strong focus on what is being called social equity. Vendors who actively include the hiring and training of black and brown people either previously victimized by harsh pot prosecutions, or coming from communities which have been abused, will get extra consideration.

Michael Cardozo, the leading suitor for a Forest Park-based dispensary and potentially a cultivation center, gets this. His recently-filed license application to the state reflects conscious choices already made to hire and train a number of people with such backgrounds. 

With active support from Mayor Rory Hoskins, with Hoskins' connections in Springfield, we expect that Cardozo and his company, Karuna, will get fair consideration.

It would be a good outcome if Forest Park wins a license to sell recreational marijuana and better yet if it wins a cultivation license. The first week of sales — currently through previously approved medical marijuana dispensaries — makes plain that there is strong demand for legal pot in all its varieties. We want to see Forest Park benefit.

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