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50th Ward alderman supports medical marijuana — somewhere else

Far North Side Ald. Debra Silverstein (50th) doesn’t want a medical marijuana dispensary approved by the state to open near a large West Ridge neighborhood park.

“I do support medical marijuana — I want to make that clear — but I’m concerned about the location,” the alderman said.

Her vocal opposition comes as 420 Capital Management, the company with a state license to open to the dispensary at 6501 N. Western Ave., needs to win a crucial city zoning permit allowing the medical marijuana shop to open.

Silverstein said the store on Western would be too close to Warren Park, located less than a block north.

“The park has hundreds of children playing there all the time,” Silverstein said. The park, which has an ice rink during the winter lots of summer activities, is open year-round.

Illinois medical marijuana rules say dispensaries cannot be located near schools or any child care facility but they don’t mention parks. Although it has already been approved by the state, the dispensary still must clear a local hurdle — a hearing before the Zoning Board of Appeals — before it can go forward.

Robert Kingsley of 420 Capital Management said the location isn’t a problem and the high-tech security protecting the space means only card-carrying patients can enter.

“We’ll distribute a product that will help people and serve nursing homes in the area,” he said.

Silverstein first voiced her opposition in a newsletter to neighbors. In the letter, she also asked constituents to attend the May 28 hearing before the zoning board to block the opening of the dispensary.

Kingsley said he hopes to work with the alderman but added the state had already approved the location.

“This is only going to help people in the 50th Ward,” he said. “We’re going to work hard to make this something she approves.”

Ald. Debra Silverstein opposes a medical marijuana dispensary on Western Avenue because it would be about a block away from Warren Park (above). | Sun-Times File Photo

Ald. Debra Silverstein opposes a medical marijuana dispensary on Western Avenue because it would be about a block away from Warren Park (above). | Sun-Times File Photo