Family Opens First Independent and Black-Owned Cannabis Dispensary in Chicago

Two brothers and their mother have founded Chicago’s first independent, black-owned cannabis shop. Matthew Brewer founded the company 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 company, Grasshopper Club, is located in the 2500 block of North Milwaukee Avenue. According to Block Club Chicago, Matthew, a commercial litigation attorney, is in charge of the company, while his brother, Chuck, runs the day-to-day operations and their mother, Dianne, handles the accounts.

“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 cannabis past; as a young man growing up, he was arrested several times for marijuana possession. He has now progressed to become the owner of a cannabis store, and the trip has not been simple.

The journey to build the firm began in 2019 when Gov. JB Pritzker approved legislation legalizing adult-use cannabis in Illinois. The governor stated in a statement that the bill “promotes equity and invests in communities that have suffered as a result of the drug war, 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 minority groups who have been disproportionately impacted by illicit use ownership opportunity was a key component of Illinois’ cannabis legalization legislation.

“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.

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