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City Zoning Panel Approves Six Chicago Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

By Jon Graef in News on Nov 22, 2014 8:15PM

Photo Credit: Laughing Squid

On Friday, the city's Zoning Board of Appeals Panel was set to decide on 13 applications for licenses to "establish a medical cannabis dispensary." [If you'll recall, there was fervent demand for applications for such dispensary licenses back in September.]

The Chicago Tribune reports that, of the 13 applications heard Friday, the city's Zoning Board of Appeals Panel approved six, rejected one, and delayed decisions on the other six.

Here's what applicants needed in order to acquire a dispensary license:

The requirements for obtaining a dispensary license from the state include providing detailed plans for staffing, security, labeling, and various financial disclosures, among other elements. Moreover, the rules attached to dispensaries and cultivation centers in the state all but require having $500,000 in startup capital.

The one application the board rejected was for a proposed dispensary in Wicker Park. The approved permits were for dispensaries in neighborhoods ranging from Jefferson Park to Pilsen to Brighton Park to West Town. The approval of the West Town dispensary is of note because of both who wants to run it and the opposition they faced:

Perry Mandera, owner of a Near North Side strip club called VIP's, A Gentleman's Club, got the go-ahead for a permit to operate a cannabis dispensary in the meatpacking area of the West Town neighborhood, at 1105 W. Fulton Market.

The approval came despite opposition from three area residents who live around Fulton Market and said they worried about safety because of cash pickups at the dispensary, and additional congestion because of the heavy truck traffic and limited parking available near where Mandera wants to operate.

The Sun-Times quotes Roger Romanelli, who's the executive director of the Randolph-Fulton Market Association, as saying there's "substantial community opposition" to the dispensary. [Mandera's lawyers, for their part, claim otherwise.]

Also mentioned by the Sun-Times are "two former Goldman Sachs executives" were approved to operate medical marijuana dispensaries, as was a local lawyer. [Previously, the Sun-Times got a hold of the "16 applications from marijuana entrepreneurs." Surprise! Some of them are connected political players.]

Despite security concerns from aldermen, who indeed spent much of Friday's meeting airing those worries, the medical marijuana train keeps a' rollin. The state will grant only 13 dispensary licenses in the city of Chicago.

Previously, the Chicago City Council opted not to vote on a measure that would toughen already stringent security rules due to concerns about their legality.

Three dispensaries in the city have already been approved.