On Jan. 1, Illinois became the 11th American state to legalize recreational marijuana, a concept that has generated millions, and even billions, for state and municipal governments. Unlike other states, lawmakers in Illinois, when crafting their legalized marijuana bill also implemented reparations clauses to right what many see as past wrongs linked to the drug.

In addition to expunging hundreds of thousands of criminal records for marijuana arrests and convictions, the law’s architects added provisions meant to benefit communities that have been the most adversely affected by law enforcement’s efforts to combat the drug.

Now, unemployed residents in Chicago are calling to take a step further, to immediately benefit those most impacted – they want peddler’s licenses to sell legal marijuana.

Men and women, some ex-felons, are saying they have years, and in some cases, decades of experience selling marijuana. They cannot afford to wait on delayed government bureaucracy to create policy that would allow them to land jobs in the cannabis industry through business licensing; they need and want jobs right now.

Concerned citizens have enlisted the help of Executive Director of Violence Interrupters, Tio “Mr. Ceasefire” Hardiman, to help assist them in the quest to secure street vendor permits in their neighborhoods. Like food trucks, they would be able to distribute and sell marijuana legally.   

According to Chicago’s, Small Business Center, a “street peddler” is a person who moves from place to place, whether on private or public property, selling goods, wares, merchandise, wood, fruits and/or vegetables which are whole and uncut. A street peddler may sell from a wagon, motor vehicle, handcart, pushcart or other vehicle.

The idea is – having permits will reduce the staggering unemployment levels that stand against Chicago’s Black males. The 2017 Census showed that some 36% percent of Black males, from age 16 to 24 are out of work; thus, creating violence in their communities.

Without the opportunity to earn a living, tension plagues their streets; Hardiman, who also serves as an adjunct professor at North Park University in the Field of Criminal Justice and Restorative Justice, thinks allowing peddler’s licensing will be a win-win for everyone.   

Big business is profiting from marijuana, Chicagoans feel small business should as well. 

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