Chicago’s Zoning Rules Could Prohibit Dispensaries

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Chicago’s strict zoning rules for medical marijuana dispensaries could prohibit the shops from operating within the city limits altogether.

That’s the argument of Ed Burke, dean of the Chicago City Council, who told state officials earlier this month that the city’s zoning rules effectively ban the businesses. Under the rules, dispensaries cannot open in residential areas or within 1,000 feet of a school or day care center.

The rules are similar to MMJ zoning regulations in other U.S. cities. But due to Chicago’s large residential areas and population density, the rules make most of the city off-limits.

He said the city’s planning department has prepared a map of Chicago that upholds his argument.

The zoning laws also present challenges in the suburbs. The town of La Grange, for example, has only one section along the town’s northeast corner that would qualify for a dispensary. La Grange does not quality for a cultivation center, which must be 2,500 feet away from schools or day care centers.

Under the state’s Medical Cannabis Pilot Program, Chicago is allowed to have up to 13 medical marijuana dispensaries.

Burke is also upset that state officials did not consult city leaders before they dictated the rules.