Riot Fest Brought the Good Vibes and a Love of Cannabis to Chicago

On day-one of Riot Fest, there was paranoia. Before music-lovers, which the Chicago-based festival attracts alone, entered the festival grounds, many were asking, “What about my legally acquired cannabis?!” I overheard that concern more than once, but those fears were soon laid to rest as festival goers bypassed the lovely security members and enjoyed their vices in a peaceful, three-day celebration of music and community. 

It was truly a celebration, too, with an endearing sense of community. People cared. Not only about quality music and good times, but about each other. Petty arguing and fighting, which are unfortunately common at festivals, were a rare sight, at least for my eyes. When someone was hurt or had a few too many, people helped.

Photo courtesy of Jack Giroux

During a booming set from cannabis enthusiasts Run the Jewels, when a man hit the ground, there was only concern, no laughter. People giving a crap about one another made the music and overall experience of Riot Fest all the more enjoyable. 

A few bands dropped out before the event, including Nine Inch Nails and the Pixies, but the lineup remained stacked. This year, a few of the headliners included Lupe Fiasco, Devo, Slipknot, The Flaming Lips and The Smashing Pumpkins. 

Sometimes must-see acts conflicted in the schedule, but more often than not, all the stages presented variety. Depending on one’s mood on the day, there was a band that would cater to it. After a long day, for example, Lupe Fiasco got the energy raised sky-high. The Chicago native performed “The Cool,” and it ruled. The artist’s voice was as beautiful as it sounds on a record. 

Artists were delighted to be back on stage. Several acts admitted to the crowd they hadn’t performed since the pandemic started. Many, such as Run the Jewels, worried they’d show signs of rust. Not the case. Every artist, except Machine Gun Kelly, brought nothing but joy and their A-game to the festival. 

A bit of clarification: Machine Gun Kelly took a swipe at Slipknot as the band performed on another stage and dedicated the show to one of its founding members, Joey Jordison. Kelly mocked the group. In the end, Slipknot had the last laugh because people were actually talking about their performance the next day, while people just groaned about Kelly.

Every day was an embarrassment of riches in terms of acts to catch. K.Flay was a dominant force on stage. Along with her band, she held nothing back. She was thrilling. Sublime ignited a wave of nostalgia in the audience. 

“I used to smoke weed listening to this in college!” a friend shouted. The Mighty Mighty Bosstones and Living Colour brought it, as well. Those bands have such an infectious on-stage chemistry together. It radiates off the stage and consumes the audience. 

On the more rock side, nobody left Thrice or Taking Back Sunday disappointed. Disappointment was not common at Riot Fest. The massive crowd, which needed to provide proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test to attend, had nothing to complain about. 

Riot Fest
Photo courtesy of Jack Giroux

Shoutout to the attendees, whose phones were not always up and selfies didn’t run rampant. People were respectful of the performances. There was a tangible passion among the crowd there. Everyone, based on my experience, was there for the music alone. 

The audience was maybe at its most rowdy when Run the Jewels hit the stage. The two-man hip hop group, El-P and Killer Mike, have always been known to put on a helluva show. The hype is correct. Their music isn’t even to my taste, but what a fantastic performance the self-admittedly high duo delivered.

Both spontaneous and choreographed, Run the Jewels had an army of music fans on their feet and moving. There were nonstop cheers, especially when Killer Mike said cannabis prohibition needs to stop. He also gave a lovely shout out to his wife in the audience. She, too, was high, Killer Mike noted. 

Riot Fest didn’t stop after the headliners performed. There are late nights after shows to catch around Chicago. I only caught one myself, but it was one worth catching. The feverish punk group from Los Angeles, The Bronx, had my ears ringing in delight at The Cobra Lounge. The band even gave me an excuse to finally put my long hair to good use and bang it around a bit. They hadn’t performed in a long time, but you’d never know it. 

Riot Fest was such an enjoyable experience full of good times that it’s impossible to list off all the damn fine acts that livened up not only the weekend, but the year, for many in attendance. Fever 333, Anti-Flag, Body Count, which is fronted by Iced-T, and many other groups brought nothing but joy to Chicago. This year’s Riot Fest was yet another reminder of why live music is just good for the soul. 

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Illinois to Hold Lottery Specifically for Those Kept Out of the Industry

Illinois will launch a new lottery program specifically for the six applicants who did not make it, so that they will now have another shot at winning and being able to operate their own recreational cannabis stores. This official new lottery was announced this past Friday, and it already has the new market buzzing with possibilities. 

According to officials who commented on the new lottery process, those who were wrongly denied chances in the first three lotteries held this summer (lotteries that gave out 185 new licenses each) will now have another chance. The new licenses will be officially authorized by state law, which allows up to 500 new licenses total. 

While the applicants who were wrongly denied won’t be guaranteed licenses, the digital lottery is meant to be a more fair system than the original lottery held, and the goal is to re-create what the odds of winning should have been originally. 

When it comes to the former lotteries, a “clerical oversight in terms of data entry” led to the mistakes, according to Toi Hutchinson, senior adviser on cannabis to Governor J.B. Pritzker. This and other issues in the licensing system have delayed the official awarding of licenses by more than a year so far. 

This new announcement came as Illinois also unveiled the 51 winners from the previous three lotteries. However, the official licensing for those winners is still delayed, as seven challenges are currently pending in court that could impact who is truly awarded at the end of the process. Cook County Judge Moshe Jacobius has even gone so far as to order the state to not to award any licenses until he rules on a case that has to do with applicants and the scoring process. 

Illinois Struggles with Licensing Process 

In total, 937 businesses submitted 4,518 applications last year. However, the issue arose when only 21 of those applicants earned the perfect scores necessary to qualify for the first lottery. Those who lost went on to file lawsuits on the basis that scoring, which was done by the consultant KPMG, gave varying scores to different applicants even when the same information was added. There were also other problems noted with the scoring system. 

In order to remedy this issue, the state passed a law that would create two more lotteries to make up for the problems with the first one. With this lottery system, the applicants only needed to score 85 percent or better to qualify. However, applicants still complained about this round of lotteries, saying that the process favored folks who were white, politically connected and wealthy, since it allowed unlimited applications attempts for those who could afford the $5,000 application fee multiple times.

Hutchinson admitted that there is an issue with the industry being mostly white-owned, but also claimed that Illinois is doing better than other states with getting licenses to those who are minorities or social equity applicants. In total, 79 new licenses have been given out in August, and 43 percent of those went to Black-owned businesses. 

She also claimed that each step along the way, regulators realized more errors and acted to correct them, helping to make the process more fair and equitable. She claimed the process was a “marathon and not a sprint.” 

However, she did admit it’s a marathon that went on for a while.

“It’s been painful to watch how long this has taken,” she said. “As we move forward, this could get better every single year.”

It remains to be seen if that is true, and if this new round of lottery will work out better for applicants, but it’s clear that Illinois isn’t giving up when it comes to perfecting the process.

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Illinois Cannabis License Lottery Winners Questioned by Applicants

Officials in the state of Illinois concluded the last of three rounds of cannabis retail license lotteries, leaving many applicants without a license and left to question if social equity was ignored during the process.

The first of the lotteries, called the “Qualifying Applicant Lottery,” was held July 29, 2021 and chose from over 600 total applicants. It awarded 55 conditional use licenses to those who applied and “received a final score of at least 85 percent of 250 application points available.” The second lottery again awarded 55 more licenses on August 5, and narrowed down eligible applicants by removing those who only qualified as employees rather than owners.

The third and final lottery was held on August 19, referred to as a “Tied Applicant Lottery,” with 75 recreational cannabis license winners officially announced by the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation, chosen out of a pool of 135. During the selection process, there was supposed to be special consideration to take social equity into account on a points-based system. 

“After all of the lessons learned so far, we know that our fight for equity will continue at each phase to ensure that the hopes of this historic law are true to its promise,” said Senior Advisor to the Governor for Cannabis Toi Hutchinson in a press release. “Nearly two years ago, high scoring applicants did not know what their future in the Illinois Cannabis industry would be. After the tireless work of the Pritzker Administration, lawmakers and stakeholders who would not give up on the possibility of an industry that looks like our state’s incredible diversity, this third lottery puts us closer than ever to making the dreams of so many a reality.”

On the contrary, many of the chosen license winners are accused of not being diverse enough, and it’s been alleged that many of the winners have political connections that helped them win their licenses.

Two military veterans and social equity applicants, Jermell Chavis and Keith Smith, held a conference on August 20 regarding the questionable results. They were accompanied by Representative La Shawn Ford, a cosponsor of House Bill 1443, which aimed to establish rules to ensure social equity is achieved.

“This entire process smells of clout, collusion, political ties and ties to big cannabis,” said Chavis, a Marine veteran and social equity applicant. According to the Chicago Tribune, he is asking the state to review operating agreements to ensure there aren’t any suspicious owners. Likewise, Smith also wasn’t chosen for a license. He believes there should have been a maximum number of applications that a single company could enter into the lottery.

Some license winners include Allen Iverson and Al Harrington of Viola Brands and AmeriCanna Dream LLC whose partner is Cook County Commissioner Bridget Degnen, among many more.

Although the third and final lottery has concluded, licenses won’t be immediately awarded until Cook County Judge Moshe Jacobius rules on a pending lawsuit regarding the process and applicant WAH Group LLC. On August 16, WAH Group LLC was granted entrance into the final lottery where it won two licenses.

Jacobius believes his decision could cause the entire process to be redone. “We can’t predict the future. And counsel says that if you ultimately rule that the whole structure was improper, then the whole thing will have to be redone over again,” Jacobius said. “That may very well be, but I can’t anticipate what’s going to happen. And that’s just the most extreme thing that can happen. It might happen. It’s very possible. But then, everybody then would be subject to just another application process or another lottery, who knows what.”

Jacobius is expected to make his final ruling on September 1.

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Cannabis Legalization Makes New Advances in the Midwest

The push to legalize cannabis in the Midwest is making new advances, with lawmakers in Wisconsin introducing a new bill and Ohio activists amending language for a proposed legalization measure. Meanwhile, regional early adopters Illinois and Michigan continue to post strong recreational marijuana sales with record-breaking months in July.

Last week, a group of Wisconsin lawmakers appeared at a cannabis dispensary in Illinois (where adult-use cannabis is legal) to unveil a bill that would legalize marijuana in the Badger State. Under the bill, adults 21 and over would be permitted to purchase and use recreational cannabis while adults 18 and up with debilitating health conditions would be allowed access to medical marijuana. Younger patients would be permitted to use cannabis medicinally with parental consent. Wisconsin currently has no provisions for legal cannabis, even as it is surrounded by four states with at least some form of legalized marijuana.

The lawmakers gathered at the Sunnyside dispensary in South Beloit, Illinois — only about 1,000 feet from the state border — to illustrate how many of the business’s customers are coming from Wisconsin. On an average day, half of the cars in the Sunnyside parking lot have Wisconsin license plates, according to South Beloit Mayor Ted Rehl. At last week’s unveiling of the bill, Democratic Sen. Melissa Agard, who is the sponsor of the bill in the state Senate, said that cannabis legalization would be a good move for Wisconsin.

“Legalizing and taxing cannabis in Wisconsin just like we already do with alcohol ensures a controlled, safe market for our communities,” Agard said.

Fellow Democrat and Wisconsin State Assembly Rep. David Bowen noted that Wisconsin’s drug prohibition laws have not been enforced fairly and equitably.

“Under the failed war on drugs, enforcement of cannabis prohibition laws have disproportionately impacted communities of color,” said Bowen, the lead author of the legalization bill. “When an individual is arrested for nonviolent possession of marijuana, they are driven from their jobs, from their families and driven from their communities.”

Despite a 2019 Marquette University Law School poll showing that 59% of Wisconsin’s registered voters support cannabis legalization, approval of the bill in the state’s Republican-led legislature does not seem likely, according to media reports. Agard said that the sponsoring lawmakers will be circulating the bill for two weeks in order to gain co-sponsors before moving forward with the legislation.

Ohio Activists Resubmit Cannabis Legalization Petition Summary

In Ohio, citizens rather than lawmakers are leading the drive to legalize cannabis for recreational use. The cannabis reform group the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol resubmitted petition language for a proposed legalization measure. In early August, Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost rejected an earlier draft of a summary of the proposal, which would allow adults 21 and older to possess, purchase, use and grow marijuana. After reviewing the proposal to ensure it was a “fair and truthful” description of the law, Yost cited a list of seven deficiencies in the summary and returned it to supporters for correction. The attorney general wrote, for example, that the summary did not adequately explain the “cannabis social equity and jobs program” and did not clearly indicate that home growers are limited to possessing up to six cannabis plants.

“In total, the summary does not properly advise a potential signer of a proposed measure’s character and limitations,” Yost wrote in a letter to the group’s attorney.

Last Friday, supporters of the proposal resubmitted the summary after addressing the deficiencies noted by Yost.

“We appreciate the attorney general’s feedback on our initial filing, and have fully addressed the issues flagged in this updated filing” coalition spokesman Tom Haren said in a news release.

Once the summary is approved, supporters of the legalization proposal will be able to begin collecting petition signatures from Ohio registered voters. If the group collects at least 132,887 valid signatures, the proposal will head to the Ohio General Assembly for consideration. If lawmakers fail to approve the measure, supporters could collect an additional 132,887 signatures to place the proposal before voters, perhaps as soon as the Nov. 2022 general election.

Midwest Cannabis Sales Break Records

If Wisconsin and Ohio successfully join the ranks of the states that have legalized cannabis in the Midwest, they will be able to tap into a market that continues to grow for the region’s early adopters of marijuana policy reform. On Aug. 3, the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation reported that adult-use cannabis sales totaled $127.8 million in July, breaking a state record set only two months earlier by 10 percent. Jason Erkes, spokesman for Chicago-based cannabis multistate operator Cresco Labs, said that visitors attending the Lollapalooza music festival at the end of the month helped fuel the strong showing.

“Summer tourism and the Lollapalooza attendees were strong contributors to July’s out-of-state sales,” Erkes said.

Legal marijuana sales are breaking records in Michigan, as well. Last week, the Michigan Marijuana Regulatory Agency (MRA) released cannabis sales figures for July. Together, medical marijuana and adult-use cannabis sales totaled $171 million, generating more than $23 million in tax revenue. MRA executive director Andrew Brisbo characterized July’s cannabis sales as “Another record month!”

The post Cannabis Legalization Makes New Advances in the Midwest appeared first on Cannabis Now.

The USA CBD Expo – So Much More Than Just CBD!

What better place to host the nation’s largest hemp and CBD expo, than in the Windy City, home of the nation’s largest convention center in the recently legalized state of Illinois? This year, The USA CBD Expo will be covering so much more than just CBD, including delta 8 THC, psilocybin, THCV, and so many more exciting cannabinoid products. We’ll see you there October 28th to 30th!

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Most of us are pretty amped up to finally get back to these largescale industry events. The opportunities to learn and build connections at in-person trade shows, compared to virtual events, are unparalleled. If you want to stay up to date on all the latest innovations and industry trends, conventions are a must. I learned so much as the last USA CBD Expo I attended, and this one is expected to be significantly busier, with a much larger variety of products than ever before.

It’s still The USA CBD Expo, so expect to see a lot of hemp and CBD products. However, this event is sponsored by 3chi so there will be a lot of Delta 8 THC, as well as CBN, CBG, CBC, and even THCV. If it’s hemp-derived, you can expect to learn about it at the convention.

Another thing that will be unique about this year’s show is that it will include psilocybin too! Psilocybin is the psychoactive ingredient in magic mushrooms, and over the last few years there has been a growing focus on using this compound for therapeutic purposes, especially in the treatment of anxiety and depression. A lot of cities and states have mushroom legislation in the works, and it is prime time to start learning about it.

Again, The USA CBD Expo will be held at the McCormick Place convention center in Chicago, IL, from October 28th to 30th (plus events in Ft. Lauderdale, FL and Medellin, Columbia in 2022). We’re expecting to see over 10,000 attendees, more than 50 speakers, and upwards of 300 exhibitors at the event, and we at CBD Testers are very excited to attend!

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Thursday, April 15, 2021 Headlines | Marijuana Today Daily News

Marijuana Today Daily Headlines
Thursday, April 15, 2021 | Curated by host Shea Gunther

// Schumer Says It’s Time To End Federal Cannabis Prohibition (Gothamist)

// California Bill To Legalize Possession Of Psychedelics Clears Second Senate Committee (Marijuana Moment)

// Wisconsin Governor ‘Tired’ Of Marijuana Revenue Going To Illinois Next Door (Marijuana Moment)

These headlines are brought to you by Cova Software, the number one dispensary point-of-sale system in North America! Swing over today to see why two thirds of all Canadian cannabis stores run on Cova software, which is also the fastest growing dispensary software in the U.S., with more than a hundred new client dispensaries open for business in January alone!

// Sixth Minnesota House Committee Approves Marijuana Legalization Bill On Its Path To The Floor (Marijuana Moment)

// Swap the crop? New York hemp farmers eager to grow marijuana

// Jushi Buying Dalitso Facility For $22 Million (My Journal Courier (AP)) (Green Market Report)

// Valens Q1 Revenue Increases 25% Sequentially to C$20 Million (New Cannabis Ventures)

// Alabama Medical Marijuana Bill Moves Closer To Floor Vote With House Committee Action (Marijuana Moment)

// Neighbor states give Illinois $10 million in cannabis taxes every month (Leafly)

// With State Law Against Drug Possession Overturned Washington Governor Frees 15 People From Prison (Marijuana Moment)

Check out our other projects:Marijuana Today— Our flagship title, a weekly podcast examining the world of marijuana business and activism with some of the smartest people in the industry and movement. • Marijuana Media Connect— A service that connects industry insiders in the legal marijuana industry with journalists, bloggers, and writers in need of expert sources for their stories.

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Tuesday April 6, 2021 Headlines | Marijuana Today Daily News

Marijuana Today Daily Headlines
Tuesday, April 6, 2021 | Curated by host Shea Gunther

// Cops Can’t Arrest You For Smoking Marijuana On Sidewalks NYPD Says In Post-Legalization Memo (Marijuana Moment)

// New Mexico Takes First Step On Marijuana Implementation Before Governor Even Signs Legalization Bill (Marijuana Moment)

// Schumer says the Senate will act on marijuana legalization regardless of Biden’s position (Report Door)

These headlines are brought to you by MJToday Media, publishers of this podcast as well as our weekly show Marijuana Today and the most-excellent Green Rush Podcast. And check out our new show Weed Wonks!

// Mexico Marijuana Legalization Bill Clears Key Senate Committee With Floor Vote Expected This Month (Marijuana Moment)

// Recreational marijuana sales in Illinois smash record in March – $109 million (Chicago Tribune)

// Trulieve Buys Keystone Shops In $60 Million Deal (New Cannabis Ventures)

// Planet 13 Q4 Revenue Increases 22% From a Year Ago to $20.1 Million (New Cannabis Ventures)

// Jushi Completes $9 Million Nevada Acquisition ()

// D.C. Is ‘Ready’ To Legalize Marijuana Sales As Soon As Congress Gets Out Of The Way, Mayor Says (Marijuana Moment)

// Colorado Is Auctioning Marijuana-Themed License Plates To Raise Money For People With Disabilities (Marijuana Moment)

Check out our other projects:Marijuana Today— Our flagship title, a weekly podcast examining the world of marijuana business and activism with some of the smartest people in the industry and movement. • Marijuana Media Connect— A service that connects industry insiders in the legal marijuana industry with journalists, bloggers, and writers in need of expert sources for their stories.

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