As losing social equity applicants for Illinois’ latest round of cannabis dispensary licenses begin to register organized objections to process and at least one lawsuit has already been filed, new information about the tiebreaking licensees has come to light since Thursday’s announcement.
On Monday, August 24, eleven days before the announcement of the dispensary tiebreaker list, a state employee told Grown In that the tiebreaker list had been transmitted from the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation to Governor J.B. Pritzker’s office, and that an announcement could be forthcoming any day.
Friday, the day after the announcement, two losing social equity cannabis applicants filed suit against Brett Bender, the Deputy Director of the Illinois Department of Financial & Professional Regulation responsible for cannabis dispensary oversight. The suit calls for the court to stop the state from conducting the tiebreaking lottery until the suing applicants obtain judicial review of the administration’s application scoring process.
A state spokesperson, asked about the lottery process on Friday, was defiant. “The Illinois Lottery will conduct the lottery pursuant to its procedures and controls. The lottery will be held in the latter part of September, with the date to be announced.” The spokesman did not respond to a follow up asking for a definition of, “procedures and controls.”
Grown In has identified three additional tiebreaking groups led by Illinois-based Black business leaders: including Vertical Management LLC, which includes Maywood-native David Scott, a Black owner of a limousine service and a payday loan store. Another, So Baked Too LLC, is led by Britteney Conner, a poet and writer from Chicago. A third, Green Equity Ventures LLC, includes Michael Lucas, director of business development for McLaurin Development Partners, a Black-owned and operated commercial real estate developer.
“I’ve been in business for a long time. Anybody I come in contact with, they need to understand: They did a good job putting this together,” says David Scott of the Vertical Management team. “Even if I don’t win, I enjoyed the process, and I think it’s a great thing they are trying to do.”
Scott says his group of seven members includes five Black businesspeople, whose names he was not willing to divulge. They included his brother-in-law, the majority shareholder and a district manager for Jamba Juice, a board member of Credit Union One, a district manager for Comcast, and a nurse.
Meanwhile, details about another group, V3 Holdings, began to emerge. V3 Holdings, also operating as Terrabis, recently obtained medical cannabis licenses in Missouri, and names David Zordan as its Chief Operating Officer. A person with knowledge of the ownership group says it includes former Chicago commodities trader and others with backgrounds in outdoor advertising.
Also, Grown In has learned that Clean Slate Holdings LLC, the group listed as manager for two tiebreaker license groups, occupies the same address as Bosworth Capital, an investment group led Matt Estep, one of the co-founders of Green Thumb Industries, who exited the company in 2017.
On Friday, a Green Thumb Industries spokesperson said they have, “no relationship to these entities and we are not a part of any applications.”
Two press conferences and rallies of losing social equity applicants are already scheduled: One for 11:00 a.m. on Monday morning at the James R. Thompson Center in downtown Chicago and a second at the same time and location on Tuesday.