Meet 3 black Chicagoans who want to open recreational marijuana shops in Illinois – Chicago Sun-Times

A real estate broker who writes a respected travel blog that focuses on pot. A Bronzeville marketing guru who wants to start the Marijuana Hall of Fame. And the co-founder of the nation’s largest black-owned cannabis company who owns pot shops around the country — but not in Illinois.

These are a few of the potentially hundreds or thousands of business people planning to apply for the next round of coveted licenses to sell marijuana in Illinois. Those 75 licenses are the first being offered to the so-called social equity candidates who will get a leg-up in the application process for living in areas that have been disproportionately impacted by past drug policies or have a pot-related offense on their records.

All three men are African American and live in South Side neighborhoods that qualify, and two have pot-related arrests.

The Sun-Times is following the men as they navigate the competitive process and attempt to stake their claim in Illinois’ nascent cannabis business. The applications, which are due Jan. 2, will be awarded by May, officials said.

Here are their stories:

Michael Malcolm, author of the “Weed Travel Food” blog Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times

For the past two years, Michael Malcolm has been keeping close tabs on the cannabis industry.

A real estate broker by trade, the 37-year-old has used his “Weed Travel Food” blog to create a bevy of pot-centric content in his spare time.

“I’ve been traveling to different legal states documenting how businesses run, both on the retail side and the wholesale side,” said the budding cannabis influencer, who has in turn earned sponsorships and partnered with a handful of pot firms.

Now Malcolm hopes to use that wealth of knowledge to strike out on his own. Though he ultimately intends to

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