CHICAGO — For the first time, Chicago’s city government is hosting a “Cannabis Resource Fair” Saturday aimed at helping residents benefit from the legalization of marijuana in Illinois.
The free event will connect people with business and job opportunities, help with expungement and legal aid and provide more information on new laws and regulations in the city, according to the office of Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot. It is scheduled for 10 a..m. to 3 p.m. at the UIC Forum, 725 W. Roosevelt Road.
“Ensuring this emerging industry brings unprecedented economic and social benefits to our communities has been at the heart of our efforts since day one,” Lightfoot said in a statement announcing the event’s schedule and speaker lineup. “By working hand-in-hand with city and state officials, community advocates, and industry partners and providing residents with the resources they need to succeed, we can empower those interested in becoming the next employee, business owner or investor in Chicago’s newest industry.”
Lightfoot is scheduled to take part in the opening panel discussion at 10:15 a.m. along with keynote speaker Wanda James, CEO of Simply Pure Dispensary in Colorado.
James and her husband were the first black people in the United States to be legally licensed to own a cannabis dispensary, cultivation facility and edible company. She has devoted her career to helping communities hurt by drug prohibition and offering opportunities to people interested in getting into the cannabis business, the mayor’s office said. James and Lightfoot will be joined on the panel by Kelly Cassidy, the House sponsor of the, which legalized the adult use and sale of recreational marijuana this month.
City officials have planned five more presentations and panel discussions, including cannabis industry experts, policy advocates, entrepreneurs and more.
Representatives of more than 65 cannabis organizations, nonprofits and businesses are planning on attending, according to the mayor’s office, and 35 of them are currently accepting resumes and applications from Chicagoans looking to join the city’s nascent industry.
Full Schedule of Feb. 1 Chicago Cannabis Resource Fair
KEYNOTE PANEL DISCUSSION (10:15–11 a.m.)
- Mayor Lightfoot
- Wanda James, Founder & CEO, Simply Pure Dispensary and State Representative
- Kelly Cassidy, House Sponsor of the Cannabis Regulation & Tax Act
KEYNOTE CANNABIS 101 & KNOW YOUR RIGHTS (11:15 a.m.–12:15 p.m.)
An explanation of all things pertaining to cannabis legalization, including the current state of the industry, key provisions of legalization, upcoming dates to be aware of, and consumer rights.
- Toi Hutchison, Senior Advisor to the Governor for Cannabis Control
- Richard Wallace, PURE Cannabis Coalition
- Mony Ruiz-Velasco, Executive Director of PASO–West Suburban Action Project
PANEL 2: I WANT TO START A BUSINESS IN THE INDUSTRY (11:15 a.m.–12:15 p.m.)
Overview of how to start a cannabis business in Illinois, whether it be a dispensary, craft growing operation, or another entity. This panel will discuss the process of starting a cannabis business, including the State’s licensure process.
- Alma Tello, Deputy Director for the Office of Minority Economic Empowerment (OMEE) at the Illinois Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity
- Anton Seals, Founder, OURS LLC
- Jamil Taylor, Director of Operations & Business Development, Viola Brands
- Kevin Slaughter, partner in the Corporate Practice Group of Levenfeld Pearlstein, LLC
- Jeff Cox, Bureau Chief of Medicinal Plants at the Illinois Department of Agriculture
PANEL 3: EXPUNGEMENT (12:30–1:30 p.m.)
An overview of the expungement provisions of the state law, including automatic expungement and the rap sheet process.
- Sodiqa Williams, Vice President, External Affairs and General Counsel for the Safer Foundation
- Alysia Tate, the Director of Organizational Strategy and Development for Cabrini Green Legal Aid
- Regina Hernandez, a staff attorney with Legal Aid Chicago’s (LAC’s) Volunteer Services Unit
- Kristina Kaupa, Policy Advisor at the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office
PANEL 4: CONTRACTING OPPORTUNITIES (12:30–1:30 p.m.)
From construction to security to HVAC to electricians, this panel will highlight the needs of the cannabis industry and offer you a chance to think about how to increase your customer base in the cannabis industry.
- Pamela Althoff, Executive Director of the Cannabis Business Association of Illinois
- Edie Moore, Executive Director of Chicago NORML
- Paul Chialdikas of Bedford Grow LLC/ Maribis LLC, a Chicago-based cannabis company
- Willie JR Fleming, South and West Side Cannabis Coalition (SWCC)
- John Sullivan, Executive Vice President of Public Affairs at Cresco Labs
PANEL 5: I WANT TO WORK IN THE INDUSTRY (1:45–2:45 p.m.)
An overview of the various paths to work in the industry, in addition to covering available jobs, this session will explain what skills, training and certification are necessary.
- Britteny Soto, senior recruiter for Green Thumb Industries
- Beniamino Capellupo, Executive Director for Service Employees International Union (SEIU)
- Paul Lee, one of the founding owners of Dispensary33
- Shawnee Williams, a recruiter and account executive for Illinois Equity Staffing
PANEL 6: NAVIGATING CITY OF CHICAGO REGULATIONS (1:45–2:45 p.m.)
An overview of all the different city processes you have to understand in order to become a cannabis entrepreneur in the City.
- Paul Stewart, an Assistant Deputy Mayor and the City of Chicago’s Cannabis Coordinator
- Katriina McGuire, a Partner at Thompson Coburn
- Steve Valenziano, the Assistant Zoning Administrator for the City of Chicago