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City to hold public meetings on recreational pot legalization, proposed zoning rules for dispensaries

In addition to being briefed on the new state law that legalizes recreational pot sales on Jan. 1, Chicagoans will receive detailed information about the local zoning ordinance Mayor Lori Lightfoot proposed last month.

A person smoking marijuana AP

Chicagoans will have three opportunities this week to learn more about the mayor’s proposed zoning rules for recreational marijuana dispensaries and the overarching pot legalization law.

The meetings are all slated to start at 6 p.m. and will be led by representatives from the City Council Zoning Committee and the mayor’s office. They will be held:

  • Tuesday at Malcolm X College, 1900 W. Jackson
  • Wednesday at Kennedy-King College, 6301 S. Halsted
  • Thursday at Truman College, 1145 W. Wilson

In addition to being briefed on the measure that legalizes recreational pot sales on Jan. 1, community members will receive detailed information about the local zoning ordinance Mayor Lori Lightfoot proposed last month.

Following the informational sessions, which will also be streamed on the mayor’s Facebook and Twitter pages, attendees will be able to comment publicly and submit written questions.

”Cannabis legalization offers a unique opportunity to expand equity into our city’s neighborhoods and communities — particularly those that have borne the brunt of the War on Drugs — and listening to community voices is essential to ensuring that process is both fair, safe and equitable,” Lightfoot said in a statement. “By hearing directly from residents, business owners and advocates throughout Chicago about their priorities and the issues that matter most to them, we can work collectively to create a cannabis legalization program that is strong and effective, and creates new avenues of opportunity for our residents that need and deserve it the most.”

Lightfoot’s plan would most notably prohibit recreational pot sales in much of the city’s Central Business District. The so-called “exclusion zone” would stretch from Oak Street to Ida B. Wells Drive and from Lake Michigan to La Salle Street in River North and to the Chicago River in the Loop. Additionally, recreational sales would be barred within 500 feet of schools and in residential districts and buildings.

The plan would also establish seven zones for recreational dispensaries across the city in an effort to equally distribute pot shops and cap the number of stores in each area.