Chicago cannabis cartel
Chicago cannabis cartel

What is the Chicago Cannabis Cartel? Federal Lawsuit Paints Mafia-Like Picture of Chicagoland Weed Industry

Is there really a cannabis cartel forming in Chicago or does a lawsuit dramatize MSO's actions?

Posted by:
Lemon Knowles on Wednesday May 4, 2022

chicago cannabis cartel

A federal lawsuit in the Illinois federal court is presently the major talking point among many in the cannabis industry in the region. The suit was filed by a group called the True Social Equity in Cannabis against four marijuana companies which it calls the ‘Chicago Cartel'. The said cartel is closely related to three prominent families namely the Pritzker, Wrigley, and Kovler families. Read on as we look into the nitty-gritty of this lawsuit and why it is the present talk of the town in the cannabis industry. We will also talk about the group that has filed the lawsuit as well as reactions from involved parties.

A Closer Look into the Lawsuit

The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois last week received a nine-page lawsuit against four companies in the cannabis industry. The companies include Green Thumb industries based in Chicago, Verano industries based in Chicago, Surterra Holdings based in Atlanta, and Akerna based in Denver. Akerna helps to offer technology services to the cannabis industry while the other three companies are established cannabis companies that work together. All the companies are prominent firms with a wide reach of influence in different regions of the country.

The core of the suit filed against the companies is centered around federal antitrust laws proposed to be breached by the companies. The suit claims the companies share price information which constitutes overlapping management and directorship. The companies are also charged to be offering monopolist prices for products in the cannabis market. These allegations are huge if they are proven in court which is why all eyes are focused on what will be the outcome from the federal court in Illinois.

For those who do not know, J.B. Pritzker is the former governor of Illinois, Ben Kovler is the CEO of Green Thumb and William Wrigley Jr. is a former CEO at Surterra Holdings now known as Parallel. This suit puts the three personalities and their respective families in the limelight as the heads of this proposed cartel and its actions. Each personality is well established in different business sectors along with their respective families. The Pritzker family has the Hyatt Hotels, the Wrigleys a chewing gum company, and the Kovler family has numerous business interests.

The indications from the suit allege that Akerna as the technological arm of this cartel provides others with information regarding supply, demand, and price in the Chicago cannabis market. This information serves as the basis on which the cartel monopolizes and controls the Illinois marijuana market. Though not fully licensed as a cannabis company, the suit believes that Akerna is currently seeking marijuana licenses in the market. This places Akerna as the nucleus holding the proposed cartel together and giving it needed information to control the market. Though these are the projections of the lawsuit, how true they remain to be proven.

Reactions from Involved Parties

After the filing of the suit and all reactions that ensued, Green Thumb, Verano and Parallel have chosen not to comment immediately on the matter. Akerna on the other hand has spoken through its communications manager Georgia Jablon. Georgia responded to MJBizDaily through email where he stated that the firm is equally filing a motion to see the suit dismissed immediately.  He explains that the document of the suit contains multiple inaccuracies. One of such inaccuracies is that Akerna is not a plant-touching operator instead it’s a public company. The interpretation of this is that its shareholders and board of directors are all public records. Jablon claims this is just one of the numerous inaccuracies present in the suit which forms their case for immediate dismissal.

The lack of reactions from the major players in this lawsuit is not one to read much into. Such big companies are not known to quickly react to public lawsuits such as these. This is because most times they are readily faced with multiple lawsuits from different places. However, the conditions surrounding this particular lawsuit might require a bit of urgency on their part. The prominence of the persons attached to the companies is also a reason why this lawsuit is getting public attention.

Trust Social Equity in Cannabis

Many might not be familiar with this group but it’s a body that is committed to fighting against marijuana monopolies. This present suit is its biggest move in recent times to achieve that goal and has gotten the group a great deal of public attention. The group is committed to addressing marijuana monopolies among consumers and entrepreneurs in cannabis ventures and their competitors. The importance of this move by the group is that it helps to checkmate many players in the industry and ensure an equal playing field for all. This is important in a growing industry such as cannabis which is already seeing burgeoning sales in multiple regions.

The aim of the group through the suit is to for the court bar the defendants from all activities concerning marijuana in the state of Illinois and the entire United States. This includes and is not limited to marketing, selling, growing, and distributing the herb. This is sure to be a big feat if the court agrees with the suit after proceedings. However, there is still a long way to go before that can be established. More groups and advocates such as Trust Social Equity in Cannabis are emerging in the industry. The good side of this is that they help to keep all in the industry on their toes.

Bottom line

Trust Social Equity in Cannabis is going all out with its present lawsuit against the Chicago cartel and many are on the lookout for the outcome. While it might be too early to make any predictions on what will happen, the situation is getting interesting by the day. We can expect the affected parties to be making statements soon. However, if Akerna has its way, the lawsuit might die even before it gets room to breathe.






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