Two brothers and their mother have opened the first independent and black-owned cannabis dispensary in Chicago. The company was established by Matthew Brewer along with his brother, Chuck, and their 74-year-old mother, Dianne Brewer.
“We don’t have a relationship or get support or have an arrangement with one of the large, publicly-owned cannabis companies,” Matthew said.
The firm, called Grasshopper Club, operates in the 2500-block of North Milwaukee Avenue. According to Block Club Chicago, Matthew, a commercial litigation attorney, oversees the business, while his brother, Chuck, runs the daily operations, and their mother, Dianne, handles the accounting.
“I’m working on the accounting aspects of this business,” Dianne Brewer said. On his part, Chuck Brewer said, “I’m totally excited. I retired 12 years ago and here I am working again.” “For me to be doing this legally with my brother and my mother, it’s priceless.”
Chuck has a history of cannabis; as a young man growing up, he was arrested for marijuana possession a couple of times. Since then, he has evolved to become a cannabis dispensary owner, and the journey did not come easy.
The quest to establish the business began in 2019 when Gov. JB Pritzker signed an equity-centric law to legalize adult-use cannabis in Illinois. In a statement, the governor noted that the law “promotes equity and invests in the communities that suffered through the war on drugs, serving as a model for the legalization and decriminalization of cannabis.”
“As the first state in the nation to fully legalize adult-use cannabis through the legislative process, Illinois exemplifies the best of democracy: a bipartisan and deep commitment to better the lives of all of our people,” said Gov. JB Pritzker.
“Legalizing adult-use cannabis brings an important and overdue change to our state, and it’s the right thing to do. This legislation will clear the cannabis-related records of nonviolent offenders through an efficient combination of automatic expungement, gubernatorial pardon, and individual court action. I’m so proud that our state is leading with equity and justice in its approach to cannabis legalization and its regulatory framework. Because of the work of the people here today and so many more all across our state, Illinois is moving forward with empathy and hope.”
Giving ownership opportunities to minorities disproportionately affected by illegal use was a big part of Illinois’ law to legalize cannabis.
“They call it social equity, but you’ve got to have the money to be able to open and many African Americans don’t have that money,” Dianne said.
Today, the Brewer family is focused on supporting other African Americans to open more independent dispensaries.