Chicago needs to license places where marijuana can be consumed on premises, mayor says

“We’re hearing all sorts of stories about pop-up parties and traveling buses and vans,” the mayor said.

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A person smoking marijuana

Mayor Lori Lightfoot says Chicago needs to license places where people may smoke the marijuana they buy.

Foto de archivo AP

Chicago can’t wait for the Illinois Legislature to fix problems with the state’s recreational marijuana consumption law to create licensed places for people to smoke the weed they buy, Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Friday.

“I’m worried. We’re hearing all sorts of stories about pop-up parties and traveling buses and vans,” the mayor said.

“We’ve got to give people a safe place to consume. It’s got to be part of the regulatory roll-out. While certainly we’ll continue to be working with the state to address this issue. ... But we’re gonna have to move before the state because we may not get something from the state until the end of the legislative session, which is at the end of May. In my mind, that’s too long to wait.”

Two weeks ago, Lightfoot called off a City Council showdown on her consumption plan amid a barrage of complaints from African American aldermen.

They were concerned the shortage of smoke shops and hookah lounges on the South and West Sides would lead to a new wave of arrests by the same people victimized by the first war on drugs.

They want the Legislature to let Chicago license smokeless cannabis cafes where small serving sizes of edible pot products can be sold and consumed on the premises without having to install costly ventilation systems.

Aldermen have also raised concerns about allowing consumption at recreational marijuana dispensaries, even though Lightfoot’s ordinance did not cover consumption at those businesses.

It would have limited consumption-on-premises licenses to retail tobacco stores that derive 80% of revenue from the sale of tobacco-related products.

Smoke shops would have been required to buy a two-year, $4,400 license; be the sole occupant of a free-standing building; and prevent smoke from escaping into areas where smoking is prohibited. That includes patios and other enclosed outdoor areas not visible to the public.

Lightfoot has argued for weeks she “had the votes” to pass her ordinance.

On Friday, the mayor was non-committal when asked what changes she was prepared to make to appease aldermen.

“We want to make sure that there are safe places to consume in areas of the city where the residents support it,” the mayor said.

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