News and nuggets for cannabis industry practitioners in the Midwest and beyond.

Virtual summit to dig into dearth of minority-owned banks for cannabis companies

Illinois Women in Cannabis on August 14 will convene virtual panel conversations on federal banking legislation and the scarcity of minority-owned banks to serve the growing industry. 

Organizer Mila Marshall says the program will detail current shortcomings in proposed federal banking legislation and educate new license-holders in the industry on the challenges of finding a bank that serves companies that violate federal law. 

“The banking industry historically has shown to be inequitable in terms of how it allocates resources to weaker markets,” said Marshall. “This will be an opportunity to have a broader discussion on increasing cannabis inequity IQ beyond just the topic of expungement.”

In addition to banking, the program will focus on capital formation, lending options and other financial requirements for cannabis operators.

“So many of our people can’t keep up with this kind of financial literacy,” says panelist Edie Moore, executive director of Chicago NORML and part of application teams that won multiple retail licenses in each of the first two Illinois lotteries. 

She added that while some African American investor teams are creating funds to invest in the sector, lack of support for business leaders is a buzzkill. 

“There are wealthy black people who do not seem to be paying attention to the needs of this space,” she said. 

More cannabis on the Hudson

Chicago-based multistate operator Cresco Labs is getting a green light of sorts to build a 360,00 square foot cultivation facility in New York’s Hudson Valley. 

New York, which is expected to launch recreational sales in 2022, has ten licensed cannabis operators, including Chicago-based Green Thumb Industries and PharmaCann. Additional New York license holders CuraLeaf, Ascend Wellness, Columbia Care, and Acreage Holdings also have significant operations in Illinois and Michigan. 

Michigan Attorney General files brief to preserve unemployment benefits for employees terminated due to THC

Referencing affirmation by Michigan voters in 2018 to legalize recreational marijuana, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel filed on August 9 an amicus brief before the state’s Unemployment Insurance Appeals Commission to enable unemployment benefits to those fired due to use of the plant in off hours. 

“The people spoke loud and clear when they voted in 2018 to legalize marijuana once and for all,” Nessel said in a prepared release. “Nobody over 21 can be penalized or denied any right or privilege solely for legally using marijuana, and employers cannot control their employees’ private lives by calling the legal use of marijuana outside of work hours ‘misconduct’.”

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Brad Spirrison is a journalist, serial entrepreneur and media ecologist. He lives in Chicago with his son. Interests include music, meditation and Miles Davis.