Pot Luck: City of Chicago Holds Lottery For Dispensary Sites

Medical dispensaries have been given the opportunity to locate a secondary site within their state district

It had all the makings of a high-stakes bingo game, as players in the state’s soon-to-be-legal recreational cannabis industry gathered at Chicago City Hall Friday to learn where they can locate their businesses.

Existing medical dispensaries have all been given the opportunity to locate a secondary site within their state districts. In the case of the Chicago area, that’s 31 separate businesses. And all applied for sites inside Chicago’s seven designated zones.

“To come down to a lottery is a very unique thing,” said Joe Caltabiano, chief of Chicago-based Cresco Labs. “It’s out of your control.”

He needn’t have worried.

When the first envelope was drawn, Cresco was the name inside, giving them first pick of locations, and Caltabiano chose what is expected to be the most lucrative zone, surrounding Chicago’s downtown area.

“That’s the most important district that’s available in the city,” he told NBC 5. “We’re excited to be where the people are, where the entertainment corridor is, and we think that’s the best opportunity to run a successful business.”

Cresco actually got another downtown location with the lottery’s sixth draw. Chicago-based Pharmacann also received two downtown locations, along with one each in the north and northwest zones.

“I think we did pretty well,” Pharmacann’s Jeffrey Unruh said after the drawing. “So now we have to evaluate what available properties there are in these zones.”

Because only seven dispensaries are allowed in each zone, once the central district was taken, ensuing draws began expanding choices into other area. Dispensary 33’s Zachary Zises claimed a spot in the city’s western district.

“Listen, there are a lot of opportunities in the city,” he said. “For us, the western district represents great neighborhoods and a lot of opportunity.”

No addresses were announced. It will be up to the companies to submit specific locations to the zoning board of appeals for compliance with a variety of city restrictions, and potential input from neighbors.

“We have a lot of ideas,” Unruh said. “We’ve been talking to brokers and so we know where the available pieces of real estate are and we know how they’re zoned. So now e’re really going to have to throw our cards out on the table and make some decisions on where we’re going to focus.”

That said, it’s doubtful any of these locations will be open for business when recreational cannabis becomes legal in Illinois on Jan. 1. 

“You’re looking at probably six months before some of these stores actually get fully functional,” Caltabiano said, noting that the next opportunity for a zoning hearing doesn’t come until mid-December. “I don’t see any way to get anything up before the first of the year.”

Below is the list of results from the lottery. Dispensaries listed as "existing" were up and running as of Friday. The remainder were chosen in the lottery.

North District

  • Greengate Chicago (Existing)
  • Dispensary 33 (Existing)
  • Medmar Lakeview (Existing)
  • Numed Chicago (Existing)
  • Pharmacann, LLC DBA Verilife Evanston location
  • Windy City Cannabis - Justice location
  • Union Group, LLC

Northwest District

  • Zen Leaf Chicago (Existing)
  • Columbia Care Il (Existing)
  • Moca Modern Cannabis (Existing)
  • Midwest Compassion Center
  • 3C Compassionate Care - Joliet location
  • Healthway Services Of West Illinois DBA Zen Leaf St. Charles

Central District

  • Pharmacann, Llc DBA Verilife - Arlington Heights location
  • Pdi Medical
  • Moca, LLC Modern Cannabis
  • Pharmacann, LLC DBA Verilife - North Aurora location
  • Medmar Lakeview
  • Green House Group - Deerfield location
  • Chicago Alternative Health Center DBA Midway Dispensary

West District

  • The Herbal Care Center (Existing)
  • Acreage Holdings, LLC DBA Natures Care Company
  • Dispensary 33
  • The Herbal Care Center
  • 3C Compassionate Care - Naperville location
  • Numed Chicago
  • Windy City Cannabis - Posen location

Southwest District

  • Midway Dispensary (Existing)
  • Maribis Chicago (Existing)
  • The Clinic Mundelein
  • Earthmed, LLC
  • New Age Care
  • Green House Group - Morris location
  • Seven Point

Southeast District

  • Mission Illinois (Existing)
  • Windy City Cannabis - Worth location
  • Windy City Cannabis - Homewood location
  • Floramedex
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