City shuts down River North weed dispensary days after opening

A Department of Buildings spokeswoman said a stop-work order was issued Thursday for the MOCA dispensary at 214-232 W. Ohio St. “due to work being completed without a permit.” The move forced the shop to close just two days after its soft opening.

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MOCA’s new cannabis dispensary in River North was effectively shut down on Thursday.

MOCA’s new cannabis dispensary in River North was effectively shut down on Thursday.


Two days after a new pot shop opened in River North after facing fierce opposition from both residents and the local alderman, the city’s Department of Buildings effectively shut down the business by issuing a stop-work order.

MOCA sent out an email Friday stating its recreational dispensary at 214-232 W. Ohio had “temporarily closed.” Mimi Simon, a spokeswoman for the Department of Buildings, told the Sun-Times the order was issued Thursday “due to work being completed without a permit.”

“The stop work order will be lifted once the applicant complies with the cannabis dispensary requirements outlined in the Municipal Code of Chicago and the Special Use issued by the Zoning Board of Appeals, obtains the proper permits and pays the associated fines,” Simon explained.

Matthew Beaudet, acting commissioner of the department, sent a letter Friday informing state regulators that MOCA has failed to apply for a change of occupancy for the location or submit an application for a “full renovation building permit for a cannabis dispensary.”

Beaudet explained the stop-work order is in place because MOCA failed to obtain a permit to build a fence closing off the building’s patio, a measure required as part of the firm’s special-use zoning approval. Before earning provisional approval from the ZBA in March, MOCA‘s new location faced considerable pushback from both the River North Residents Association and local Ald. Brendan Reilly (42nd).

MOCA owner Danny Marks claimed all zoning board requirements have been met. And while Marks acknowledged “a few minor issues related to our building permits to sort out,” he expects to reopen early next week.

“The confusion was primarily based on the fact that we did not do any construction, only cosmetic work and had a misunderstanding about how to treat that change of use,” said Marks, who co-owns another dispensary in Logan Square and three Emporium arcade bars across the city.

“Our whole world is compliance,” Marks said. “We have multiple tavern licenses and dispensary licenses and have never had any serious violations.”

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