Mayor Lori Lightfoot holds first meeting on recreational marijuana sales

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Mayor Lori Lightfoot held the first in a series of meetings on the sale of recreational marijuana in Chicago Tuesday evening.

The mayor wants to ban sales in certain areas downtown, including the Loop. Each of the three meetings will begin at 6 p.m.

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The first meeting was held at Malcom X College.

Two more meetings will take place on:

-Oct. 8 at Malcolm X College, 1900 W. Jackson Blvd.
-Oct. 9 at Kennedy-King College, 6301 S. Halsted St.
-Oct. 10 at Truman College, 1145 W. Wilson Ave.

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Each meeting will have a presentation on the law permitting the sale of recreational marijuana to adults 21 and older beginning on January 1, 2020.

Last month, Lightfoot introduced an ordinance to regulate marijuana dispensaries in Chicago and would keep them out of the Central Business District, which has gotten pushback from some aldermen.

"If we're talking about raising revenue and raising funds, I would have doubled the fees for licenses in the Central Business District, as opposed to eliminating it totally," said Ald. Roderick Sawyer, of the 6th Ward.

Lightfoot said that revenue isn't her only concern.

"Again, we want to do it in a way that from the very beginning focuses on equity and expanding whatever economic opportunities there are to our neighborhoods and not just concentrated in the downtown area," she said.

The Magnificent Mile Association is taking a "wait and see" approach for now.

The dispensary restrictions are expected to get pushback from the marijuana industry as well.

"Putting dispensaries where people live and people work, where they stay when they come to visit, is really important," said Jason Erkes, a spokesman for cannabis company Cresco Labs. "It's legal and we want people to have access and the stigma associated with cannabis shouldn't prevent that from happening."

Because the city desperately needs the revenue from recreational marijuana, there's a lot of incentive to get the zoning on this worked out quickly.

Ald. Reilly said he hopes it can be done before the City Council meets again in October.

Lightfoot's proposal will need the City Council's approval.

The cannabis zones established by the ordinance are:
- North District: city limits to the north, Lake Michigan to the east, Division Street to the south and Interstate 90/94 to the west.
- Central District: Division Street to the north, Lake Michigan to the east, Interstate 55 to the south and Interstate 90/94 to the west.
- Southeast District: Interstate 55 to the north, Lake Michigan to the east, 87th Street to the south and Interstate 90/94 to the west.
- Far South District: 87th Street to the north, Lake Michigan to the east and the city limits to the south and west.
- Southwest District: Interstate 55 to the north, Interstate 90/94 to the east, 87th Street to the south and the city limits to the west.
- West District: Division Street to the north, Interstate 90/94 to the east, Interstate 55 to the south and the city limits to the west.
- Northwest District: city limits to the north, Interstate 90/94 to the east, Division Street to the south and the city limits to the west.
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