A crowd of Far Northwest Side residents gathered Thursday with questions and concerns about a medical marijuana dispensary that seeks to open on Milwaukee Avenue near the hot dog joint, Superdawg.
People in the standing-only crowd were worried about safety, crime and traffic.
One little girl held a sign that said: “I’m no dope. Not in my front yard.”
“It’s such a tempting situation,” Jan Peczkis, 60, a neighbor near the proposed location, told the crowd. “If I was a criminal and wanted to get some drugs. … I’d do a hit on that person [leaving the dispensary].”
But officials with the medical marijuana firm, Union Group of Illinois, said they’ve gone “above and beyond” security requirements.
“It’s built like a bank,” said John Davis, one of the owners.
The meeting, at Olympia Park, was organized by rookie Ald. Anthony Napolitano (41st), who represents neighborhoods such as Norwood Park, Edgebrook, Edison Park, Oriole Park and O’Hare Airport and the host of Chicago cops and other city workers known to live there.
The meeting was attended by both supporters and opponents of the dispensary.
Napolitano, who has relatives and friends that have suffered from cancer, said he won’t take a stance on the issue and will decide his position based on what his constituents tell him.
“My ward is not a monarch[y]” he said.
Kristin Horne spoke up and told the crowd she supports the dispensary. Sick relatives with Crohn’s disease and neuralgia have used marijuana for medicinal purposes, and it’s helped.
“There’s no sense for people to suffer needlessly suffer because of perceived fear,” the 33-year-old said.
Residents gathered at Olympia Park Thursday to discuss a proposed
medical marijuana dispensary on the far Northwest Side near Superdawg. Photo by Becky Schlikerman.
Union Group has a state permit to open the dispensary, but the firm is still seeking approval from a Chicago zoning board that must grant it a special use permit before it can open.
The opposition to this dispensary is similar to the backlash MedMar, which sought to open in Lakeview, faced. That group has a state license but did not receive the needed Chicago zoning board permit.
Neighbors on the Far Northwest Side are concerned about the proximity to a Cook County Forest Preserve and nearby homes.
“This is the safest district in the City of Chicago,” a woman, who declined to give her name, said.
“We want to keep it that way,” said Michael Froelich, an attorney for Union Group.
Another community is scheduled for July 23 at Oriole Park, the alderman said.