Dispensaries Would be Banned From Downtown Chicago Under Proposed Marijuana Rules

Dispensaries would not be permitted within 500 feet of schools under the proposed plan

Under a new proposal from Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, the use of recreational marijuana would be banned in public places, and no dispensaries could be opened in the city's Central Business District. 

Mayor Lightfoot unveiled the new proposal on Tuesday, setting forth rules about how legalized cannabis would be rolled out in the city.

The proposal would prohibit dispenaries from opening in the downtown area in a move that has drawn some pushback from City Council members. 

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.

Not all City Council members are on board with the plan to ban the sale of recreational marijuana from the Central Business District, including 42nd Ward Alderman Brendan Reilly.

“In order for this to be a successful revenue play for the city, we need to have some dispensaries located downtown,” he told the Chicago Sun-Times. “I don’t think we should have a proliferation of these licenses in the central core, but I’d like to at least have the conversation.”

Other council members were supportive of the plan, which they say will help leverage legalized marijuana to “expand wealth and social equity” for the city’s residents.

“We have a fundamental obligation as city leaders to right the wrongs of our city’s past,” 

37th Ward Alderman Emma Mitts said. “With this new ordinance, we are taking the first step towards ensuring economic opportunities as a result of legalized cannabis are funnelled into Chicago’s black and brown neighborhoods that have been disproportionately affected by unjust drug policies for far too long.”

The measure will officially be introduced to the council on Wednesday, and a vote is expected next month on the new rules.

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