This article, originally titled "We Never Really Had A Chance," by Michael Malcolm first appeared on weedtravelfood.com on Aug. 6, 2021, as a response to Illinois' social equity cannabis dispensary license lottery results. The article is republished here with permission.
We didn't win in the dispensary lotteries, but we were never realistically intended to.
I have a lot of thoughts…but first I want to congratulate the few real social equity applicants that won. And I want to thank my team for all the hard work, effort and money spent on my behalf.
I know the judge still has a ruling to make on the 9th, but here’s a few thoughts I have after going through this process. The truth is we never really had a chance to win.
Last week I said “if you think this is about what’s fair, you haven’t been paying attention”. here’s what I meant…
It was never about “social equity” as it was defined in the law and it was never going to be fair. The process was doomed from the beginning.
Let’s just go with simple logic, math and results.
The State of Illinois allowed people to put in an unlimited amount of applications for a limited amount of licenses (digest that concept?)…then they allowed those people to win multiple limited licenses in the same lottery round.
What do you think will happen?
The people who put in the most applications ($2500/per) will win…plain and simple.
This is NOT about social equity. This is about how much money can you spend buying lottery “balls” from the state of Illinois.
So when I wonder why I didn’t win or what I could’ve done differently, it’s simple...I didn’t spend enough money.
I only spent $25k on 10 applications in non-refundable application fees and instead I should’ve spent $50k on 20, $75k on 30 or $100k on 40…because that’s allowed and that’s what worked.
That’s social equity in Illinois.
But wait there’s more….
The state of Illinois also made it so the only way you can get 100% of the points on the “social equity” application, is if the company is 51% owned and controlled by a veteran.
People rightly sued for discrimination and the state’s response was to rush out these two new lotteries before the judge’s ruling on the 9th. Except now, the only thing you need to qualify for these two new lotteries was to score 85% (and in one, today’s lottery, be considered “true social equity”) on the application.
85%?!?! the entire point of the lawsuit was over 2 points out of 252! that’s 99%.
So now we know the Community Engagement portion of the application didn’t really matter to the state. We know the State of Illinois doesn’t care what these winners plan to do for the communities they’re operating in. We know the state also doesn’t care if the companies are Illinois based or what the operating agreements look like.
Their talking points for the two new lotteries are they’re trying to get licenses in people’s hands as soon as possible because the lawsuit is delaying “true equity” in the Illinois market.
Now I don’t know about you, but I hate when people talk to me like I’m stupid.
All the state did was give the same mega corps more chances to win.
Need more proof???
The state held the two new lotteries BEFORE the original veteran lottery and allowed all the veteran owned companies in BOTH.
So even though the entire point of the lawsuit was to not give veteran-owned companies an upper hand…the state moves forward with the smaller lotteries and depending on what the judge says the vet-owned companies still get a 3rd lottery to themselves. That 3rd lottery has the largest amount of licenses available.
Now I’m not sure how many of you followed all that but here’s the point...
This was all about money, pay to play, and typical Illinois politics. I don’t care what weak ass excuse you hear over the next few days, this is the simple truth.
I’m not claiming wild conspiracies. Although if I did…it wouldn’t be hard to do and they wouldn’t be so wild….? (for instance…did anyone SEE a lottery??? ?)
But the truth is we never really had a chance and it was never about fairness or equity.
This wasn’t about merit or who was best qualified.
It was about who can pay the most money to the state, who can be easily manipulated by existing operators moving forward and who can get bought out immediately.
The last thing they want is someone like me in ??♂️
Need a little more Bluntness in your life? Sign Up for our newsletter to stay in the loop.