Ex-pot regulator, now on Cook County Bd., offered paid help to weed shop hopefuls

Bridget Degnen was among multiple ex-state employees who have sought to cash in as officials award the next round of highly lucrative pot shop licenses.

After serving as one of Illinois’ top cannabis regulators, Cook County Commissioner Bridget Degnen pitched herself as an expert last summer as she offered to write applications for a group seeking pot shop licenses, the Sun-Times has learned.

One applicant said it felt like Degnen, a Chicago Democrat representing the county’s 12th District, “knew what the application looked like before anyone else did.”

Details of Degnen’s mid-June meeting follow Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s announcement last week that state officials were holding up the lottery to determine the winners of the next 75 dispensary licenses. The first group of 21 finalists in the application process — which was supposed to prioritize social equity candidates in an attempt to diversify the largely white world of weed — ended up including individuals with deep pockets and connections to state politics. More than 900 applicants jilted in the first round will now have the opportunity to challenge their scores and revise their applications.

The Sun-Times has found that at least two firms that advanced to the lottery have hired former officials who worked for the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation, the agency that oversees cannabis dispensaries. Degnen also worked for nearly four years as the IDFPR’s deputy director of medical cannabis before leaving in 2017 to run for office. [Read More @ Chicago Sun Times]

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