Many aren’t too thrilled with Chicago’s Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s ordinance introduced on Wednesday. The mayor has announced where she does not want recreational marijuana dispensaries in the city.
If approved, the ordinance will regulate where recreational marijuana can and cannot be sold in the city, once it becomes legal in Illinois starting January 1, 2020.
Lightfoot wants to keep marijuana dispensaries out of the Central Business District, which includes Magnificent Mile, a prime tourist attraction and a major source of revenue for the city.
“The area along our Mag Mile and our parks is incredible important to our hotel and tourism business,” Lightfoot said. “We want to make sure those stay family friendly locations.”
The ordinance would also establish seven zones around the city with 13 retail locations in each. The entire downtown area is also excluded.
“It doesn’t make sense from a revenue perspective,” said Ald. Brian Hopkins, of the 2nd Ward. “There’s no question we would generate the most revenue if we had dispensaries in the downtown area.”
“If we’re talking about raising revenue and raising funds, I would have doubled the fees for licenses in the Central Business District, as opposed to eliminating it totally,” said Ald. Roderick Sawyer, of the 6th Ward.
“Again, we want to do it in a way that from the very beginning focuses on equity and expanding whatever economic opportunities there are to our neighborhoods and not just concentrated in the downtown area,” explained Lightfoot.
“Putting dispensaries where people live and people work, where they stay when they come to visit, is really important,” said Jason Erkes, a spokesman for cannabis company Cresco Labs. “It’s legal and we want people to have access and the stigma associated with cannabis shouldn’t prevent that from happening.”
Lightfoot’s proposal still needs the City Council’s approval.