Alderman Brendan Reilly Looks for ‘Middle Ground' on Downtown Dispensary Rules

Proposed rules for legalized cannabis in Chicago would prohibit dispensaries from opening in the downtown business district

A day after Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot unveiled a proposal that would prohibit recreational marijuana dispensaries from opening in the city's Central Business District, a prominent alderman is hoping that an alternative solution can be found. 

42nd Ward Alderman Brendan Reilly spoke out against the prohibition on Wednesday as Lightfoot's proposal was officially introduced to the City Council. 

"I'm hoping we can find some middle ground, where there would be one or two licenses allowed downtown to start," he said. "Because we desperately need that revenue." 

Reilly does agree with the mayor that he doesn't want to see dispensaries on Michigan Avenue or other prominent shopping areas when recreational cannabis becomes legal on Jan. 1. 

"I don't think we need to have dispensaries on our prime retail strips, like the Mag Mile or State Street, but I do think there's room for licenses on other parts of the business district," he said. 

The downtown core where dispensaries would be prohibited is bounded on the west by LaSalle Street, on the east by Lake Michigan, by Oak Street on the north, and Ida B. Wells Drive on the south. 

The rules would prohibit the sale of recreational marijuana within 500 feet of schools and within 1,500 feet of other dispensaries.

The new system would allow all licensed medical dispensaries across the city to sell cannabis for recreational use to residents aged 21 or older, according to a press release from the mayor’s office.

“This ordinance is the first of several regulatory measures to be undertaken by the city to establish the safe and responsible implementation of legalized cannabis next year,” Lightfoot said in a statement.

The measure will was introduced to the council on Wednesday, and a vote is expected next month. 

"We're going to have a lot of conversations in this month or so," Reilly said. "We've already had work groups doing a series of briefings, and it's going to take a lot of work and a lot of meetings." 

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