Social equity applicants get tips on how to enter pot business

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CHICAGO — In the shadow of the Chicago Theatre, more than 20 people interested in opening up marijuana dispensaries received tips.

Every social equity applicant got face time with a cannabis expert in the industry. Advice on security, legal issues and financial planning were covered in the one-day workshop.

“Just trying to become the best versions of ourselves that we can be,” Waukegan man Cleo Delk said.

For Delk and his friend Joseph Deloney, this is their change to build a future in the marijuana industry.

“I see other owners, especially those who qualify for the social equity, I see us really having this entrepreneur thing down,” Deloney said. "Three years from now... it’s going to be a way different view, for those who’ve been arrested from this offense is really going to turn around into a positive way.”

Like other states with legalized recreational marijuana, Illinois is offering social equity licenses.

It allows people impacted by the war on drugs to be able to open up their own businesses in the growing industry.

Good Tree Capital put on the workshop together, by not only giving advice, but loans to get them started.

“The goal is that by the end of this day, they leave with a complete or near complete application,” Seke Ballard with Good Tree said.

Good Tree gathered information on social equity licenses from other states, like Massachusetts.

“It’s like you turn over a new leaf,” Deloney said.

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