Coronavirus Pandemic Means Major Changes To Marijuana Industry In Illinois

The pandemic has also totally changed how the dispensaries that are still running are operating every day.

Coronavirus Pandemic Means Major Changes To Marijuana Industry In Illinois

CHICAGO (CBS) — Due to the coronavirus pandemic, there weren’t any festivals, parties, or big clouds of smoke this 4/20 – the unofficial holiday celebrating marijuana the first year it’s legal for recreational use.

But with the stay-at-home order in place, and limited access to dispensaries, CBS 2’s Tara Molina learned changes to the cannabis industry aren’t unique to this 4/20 day.

The Sunnyside Cannabis Dispensary River North, 436 N. Clark St., was set to open and start serving customers weeks ago. We learned that COVID-19 slowed the process and delayed the opening.

The pandemic has also totally changed how the dispensaries that are still running are operating every day.

It’s hardly the 4/20 scene many expected months ago when recreational marijuana became legal in Illinois. Back then, people anticipated pot parties, rallies, and events, but as it is, there is just a reminder to stay home from the city and state.

“With the first year of legalization in Illinois, this would have been a very different celebration had the COVID pandemic not hit,” said Jason Erkes of Cresco Labs, the company behind Sunnyside dispensaries.

Where recreational orders have moved online, a customer gets a ticket with a time to pick up.

“A lot of the stores in Illinois have limited space capacity, so we are taking orders online,” Erkes said, “but we have typically the same capacity we have any other day, with the amount of people we can get through the door; the amount of orders we can take.”

Some of those orders, bigger now. Erkes said some are choosing to stock-up.

“I think the numbers month to month will continue to be steady,” he said.

Molina checked in with the state and city on that, and the tax revenue they get from such orders. The city and state said it is too early to tell how April’s numbers will stack up.

Statewide sales in March totaled more than $35 million.

It is still unclear if COVID-19 could affect the $28 million Governor JB Pritzker estimated the state will collect in taxes; $3.5 million for the city of Chicago.

“While this is the first year cannabis is legal in Illinois for 4/20, revelers should continue to consume cannabis and cannabis infused products responsibly,” Toi Hutchinson, Senior Advisor for Cannabis Control to Gov. Pritzker said in a statement. “Illinoisans who are purchasing products from dispensaries should practice the social-distancing methods recommended by the Illinois Department of Public Health and any consumer who is sick or exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 should remain at home.”

The Mayor’s office said the city’s projected cannabis revenues represent only 0.03 percent of the 2020 budget, and while the fiscal impact of the coronavirus crisis remains to be seen, the city plans for such events by including multiple financial scenarios in its budget forecasting.

Pritzker signed an executive order extending the deadline for some recreational cannabis business licenses because of COVID-19. That deadline is coming up on April 30.

CBS 2 is committing to Working For Chicago, connecting you every day with the information you or a loved one might need about the jobs market, and helping you remove roadblocks to getting back to work.

We’ll keep uncovering information every day to help this community get back to work, until the job crisis passes. CBS 2 has several helpful items right here on our website, including a look at specific companies that are hiring, and information from the state about the best way to get through to file for unemployment benefits in the meantime.

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Democrats dream of Biden’s perfect running mate: An Obama

Former first lady Michelle Obama has made clear she’s not interested in running for office. That isn’t stopping her admirers from trying to convince her otherwise.

Democrats dream of Biden’s perfect running mate: An Obama

With the Democratic primary settled, the Rev. Al Sharpton says he now includes a political consideration in his daily prayers: God, please let Michelle Obama be Joe Biden’s running mate.

Sharpton’s decision to implore a higher power is perhaps unique among Democrats, but the strong sentiment is commonplace among party leaders, operatives, rank-and-file voters — and it’s led many to hold out hope she’ll be Biden’s vice presidential pick.

“When former Vice President Biden said he would choose a woman, she’s considered by most Americans of all races and all economic backgrounds to be the ultimate woman,” Sharpton told POLITICO. “Look at her book sales. It’s the first time I’ve seen someone write a book that can fill arenas. She has packed more arenas than Donald Trump.”

Of the roughly dozen or so names Biden is seriously considering, Obama isn’t one of them. She has made clear that she would rather focus on her work to register and turn out voters through her new organization “When We All Vote.”

““I’ll say it here directly: I have no intention of running for office, ever,” in her best-selling memoir, "Becoming," released in 2018.

Her refusals haven’t stopped Democrats from asking her to reconsider.

“I asked her when I last saw her and she seemed emphatic that she was not going to do it. I doubt if she does it,” Sharpton said, adding that he began praying she would change her mind after the recent encounter.

Still, none of that hasn’t gotten in the way of Democrats dreaming of a restoration of sorts. While discussing Biden’s potential veep picks, Michigan Democratic Party Chair Lavora Barnes recently told a reporter she didn’t want to name a preference. But when asked about Michelle Obama, she stopped for a beat.

“Oh my God,” she said, almost gasping. “That would be amazing.”

The idea of an Biden-Obama ticket is as much rooted in warm fuzzy nostalgia for the last Democratic administration as it is a product of the cold, hard data of polling.

In terms of popularity, no one else in the party is in the league of Michelle Obama, who last year overtook actress and philanthropist Angelina Jolie for the mantle of “most admired woman” in a global survey conducted by. Barack Obama was the world’s second-most admired man behind Bill Gates.

With so much star power and party goodwill behind the Obama brand, it’s little wonder there’s so much longing for the return of an Obama in a Democratic Party still reeling from Donald Trump’s 2016 victory and searching for the perfect candidate.

Valerie Jarrett, a friend and adviser to both Obamas, acknowledged the buzz around the former first lady but said running for and holding political office — whether it’s for vice president of president — isn’t her style.

“She really kind of transcends politics,” Jarrett said. “Obviously, she supports Vice President Biden but doesn’t see herself as a political figure.”

Her aversion to politicking and office-seeking are so strong, Jarrett said, that she might not even formally endorse Biden, though she will support him and campaign to defeat Trump.

“It’s about more than winning the election. You have to govern. And if your heart isn’t in what it takes to do the work of being the vice president, then you shouldn’t do it. You shouldn’t do it just to win,” Jarrett said. “She could potentially help a lot more people using her current platform rather than joining a political office.”

Jarrett, who has privately let the Biden campaign know whom she favors to be his running mate, said Biden has “an embarrassment of riches from which to choose.” Many of the dozen or so people he’s considering, she said, have their own “star power” for his ticket.

Biden made clear his high regard for Michelle Obama on Feb. 27 during a rally in Conway, S.C., where a voter asked him whether he would consider her for a running mate. Before Biden could answer, actress Vivica Fox, who was onstage with Biden, quickly chimed in.

“I’m here for that!” Fox said.

“I’d do that in a heartbeat if I thought there was any chance,” Biden said.

Biden used similar language Monday in an interview with KDKA, a Pittsburgh television station.

“I’d take her in a heartbeat,” Biden said. “She’s brilliant. She knows the way around. She is a really fine woman. The Obamas are great friends.”

Former Barack Obama adviser Jim Messina said he knows Michelle Obama won’t take the job, but he’s publicly musing about it anyway.

“Remember, she’s the one who’s popular with swing women,” Messina told POLITICO earlier this month. “If I was [Biden], I’d offer her the VP.”

Another former Obama adviser, David Axelrod, said he “would be beyond shocked” if Michelle Obama decided to run, saying she was “a conscript to politics and while she appreciated the chance to do things of value and importance to people, she has no patience for the artifice, nastiness and lust for power that too often consumes the players and the process.”

In her memoir “Becoming,” she talks about the dreadfulness of politics in recalling the painful challenges of getting tagged with the toxic political stereotype of being called an “angry black woman.”

She got the last laugh, however, because “her book is one of the best-selling memoirs ever. And her book events weren’t a signing in a packed local Barnes and Noble, she filled stadiums and arenas,” said Robert Gibbs, a former White House press secretary and Obama adviser.

“The Obamas occupy the most admired woman and the second-most admired man in the world. It speaks to not just what they accomplished in the White House years but also to who they are as people and how they did it,” Gibbs said.

Former Virginia Gov. and Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe said he witnessed firsthand how popular Michelle Obama is.

“When I ran for governor in 2013, I had everyone helping me, but I put a picture of myself and Michelle Obama in every one of my general election flyers. And I didn’t just use it in African American communities. I used it in every part of the state because she’s so popular,” he said, specifying that rural white women as well as black women in cities alike adore the former first lady.

Biden campaign advisers, basking in President Obama’s endorsement of Biden last week, are making sure to give the former first lady space to decide how involved she’ll be with the campaign.

“We know what pretty much everyone else in America does, which is that Michelle Obama is probably the most beloved member of the Democratic Party and her support is a big deal,” said an adviser who wanted to remain anonymous. “Any future announcement would reflect the incredible impact that her voice has. She has a voice that can cross the aisle in a way that very few people can.”

But until then, the Biden campaign is left in the same position as Sharpton, who said he first prays for his family, then the health of aging Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and then Michelle Obama.

“God, if you could change her mind, it would help us a lot,” Sharpton says in his prayers.

Source : Politico USA More   

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