At least ten of the 36 craft grow licenses awarded last month by the State of Illinois have gone to groups affiliated with existing cannabis companies, while some others went to current local politicians and a smattering of local notables.
Chicago-based multi-state operator Justice Grown is connected to four winning craft grown license teams, including one license going to the partner of Justice Grown’s CEO, Jon Loevy, and another going to a Loevy relative and law partner, Debra Loevy. Other winners include Ron DiGiacomo, owner of Trinity MMJ Dispensaries in Peoria, Frank Park, CEO of Salem, Oregon grower A Prime Leaf, the Black-led investment group Blounts & Moore, LaPine, Oregon grower “Oregonix Farms”, Starbuds founder Ahmad Joudeh, and Michigan’s Skymint dispensary chain owner, Omar Fakouri.
Three licenses went to Chicago-area politicians. One license went to a team led by Evanston Alderman Bobby Burns. Another went to Chicago political scion and former aldermanic candidate under investigation for tax evasion, Alex Acevedo. Acevedo is also part of a team that won a dispensary license. A third went to Lori Wilcox, the Chicago Heights City Clerk and Bloomfield Township Democratic Committeeman.
A number of Black Illinois business owners were also winners, including Shari Wilson, owner of the South Side Chicago chain, Reggio’s Pizza, Rawle Stuart, manager of fast-rapper Twista, and Rick Ringold, owner of Mokina, Illinois’ Sergeant ConstructionOther notable members of winning teams include Kiana Hughes, the recently named Interim Executive Director of ChicagoNORML, GRI Holdings LLC, the group led by upscale restaurateur Phil Stephani, Marquita Hollins, who was a member of Heartland Greens, one of the first groups to file suit against the state’s dispensary license process, and Springfield firefighter and children’s book author, Danual Berkley.