East Lake View Neighbors approve medical marijuana dispensary

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Though most of the Lake View residents who turned out for a community meeting about a proposed marijuana dispensary opposed it, the East Lake View Neighbors association, sponsors of the meeting, voted to approve a city zoning change that would allow the dispensary to open.

More than 60 people attended the meeting Monday evening to discuss a medical marijuana dispensary proposed for 2843 N. Halsted St.

Employees and consultants for MedMar Inc., the company that wants to run the dispensary, told the crowd that the location was one of a very few in Chicago that met strict zoning requirements set by both the state and the city for the dispensaries, now allowed under a recent state law.

They said a dispensary would especially be helpful to people suffering with AIDS, a number of whom live nearby in the neighborhood. Additionally, patients with ailments such as glaucoma, multiple sclerosis and Lou Gehrig’s disease would benefit, the crowd was told.

John Sullivan, a former Cook County assistant state’s attorney and now the security chief for MedMar, outlined extensive security precautions, including cameras and an enclosed inside dock for deliveries. He cited studies showing that crime has actually fallen in other jurisdictions where the sale of medical marijuana is allowed.

Sullivan pointed out that the average cash-only transaction at the dispensary would be $70 and that nearby ATMs had customers taking out far larger sums.

But one woman resident countered that, saying: “I cannot believe that anyone thinks this will not increase the crime rate in our neighborhood.

“We cannot compare ATM machines to somebody that’s trying to get a substance they are addicted to,” said the woman, who did not want her name used.

Another resident complained that the owners do not live in the area. “You guys are here to make money, you don’t care about the community. A lot of us think there are much better locations that are much more commercial for a business like this,” the man said, drawing applause from most of the audience.

But at least two people spoke in favor of the dispensary.

Jim Simonis, a member of East Lake View Neighbors, spoke of the high density of residents living in the area.

“I am sure there are lot of people in this area who need and would use this facility,” he said. “I think that it would be very bad for us to deny our fellow neighbors who would need a facility like this in our neighborhood.”

Though the East Lake View Neighbors voted at the end of the meeting to approve the zoning change granting a special-use permit to MedMar, the ultimate decision will be up to the city.

The area’s alderman, Ald. Tom Tunney (44th), was not present.

Another meeting on the issue will be held Tuesday night in the Olson Auditorium at Illinois Masonic Medical Center, 836 W. Wellington, hosted by the Central Lake View Neighbors.

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