Medical Marijuana Dispensaries May Creep From The Shadows

By Chuck Sudo in News on Jul 30, 2014 6:00PM

New zoning regulations approved Tuesday by the City Council Zoning, Landmarks and Building Standards could potentially allow for medical marijuana dispensaries to be located near the city’s high-traffic tourist areas and tony nightlife districts. A salad before your salad? Don't mind if we do!

Zoning administrator Patti Scudiero told the Sun-Times, “You could have [a dispensary] right next door as long as the zoning is applicable.”

This runs counter to the city’s original plan to have medical marijuana dispensaries and cultivation centers located in Chicago’s planned manufacturing districts. The dispensaries and growing centers would still be required to secure special-use permits from the Zoning Board of Appeals, placing them under scrutiny from neighborhood residents and businesses, while the ordinance still calls for a ban on opening the new medical head shops within 1,000 feet of schools, parks and other places frequented by children. But the visual of having a medical cannabis dispensary located next door to the city’s first Shake Shack, as an example, is too rich for us not to notice.

Zoning Committee chairman Ald. Danny Solis (25th) said the new regulations do their best to balance servicing people who need medical marijuana with the safety concerns of the community. The new zoning regulations were approved a day after the Illinois Legislature refined language in the medical marijuana law regarding where dispensaries would be located.