Chicago permits the expansion of recreational cannabis retail stores

Bethan Rose Jenkins, Cannabis News Writer/Editorial

Chicago is reducing zoning restrictions that will effectively enable recreational cannabis stores to expand. The expansion plan has already been in place for a little over one month. 

Back on September 8, the Chicago City Council’s Zoning Committee approved Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s plan to ease the city’s harsh zoning regulations for cannabis businesses. The less restrictive rules will make it possible for retail sales of the drug to be sold across much of the downtown region. 

Members of the Committee are hopeful that the ordinance will encourage more cannabis business license winners many of whom were acknowledged due to their social equity candidate status to partake in the downtown industry. 

Social equity applicants were given priority status to apply for cannabis business licenses in Chicago as a way of ensuring equality across the industry at large, which is predominantly steered by white people.

An overview of Chicago’s approved proposal to allow expansion of recreational cannabis stores

Chicago’s recreational cannabis store expansion proposal will reduce the downtown zone where cannabis retailers are forbidden to conduct business operations. 

Although retailers will have the opportunity to serve consumers over a larger area of land, they will still be prohibited from launching their business on a segment of land that stretches between Michigan Avenue and State Street, in addition to south Michigan Avenue.

The recently approved proposal will also enable retailers to open their business without receiving special authorization from Chicago regulators. Retailers have been given the green light to do business in the same areas as manufacturing operations, being that they are positioned 650 feet from a residential property.

One of the most appealing parts of the proposal circumvents the zoning lottery cannabis retailers can now sell cannabis without partaking in the zoning lottery.

Additionally, language contained in the new proposal clarifies that adult-use cannabis sales in Chicago must be discontinued from Division to Van Buren in the middle of State and Michigan. 

The anti-cannabis zone would stretch to 16th Street in Michigan. Sales would also be outlawed from Ohio to Illinois streets in the middle of Michigan and Navy Pier.

New zoning rules in Chicago make the state more appealing for cannabis businesses

Chicago’s legal cannabis industry is sure to reap some serious financial rewards following the adoption of new zoning rules. Why? Because, based on an abstract of the proposal, cannabis firms dodged the opportunity to partake in the state’s budding industry amid the previous licensing round. 

Consequently, this meant that the city lost $13.5 million in much-needed revenues. Currently, a mere 18 of Illinois’ operational dispensaries have opened their doors in Chicago, which is acknowledged as the largest metropolitan area in the entire state.

Following recreational cannabis legalization in Illinois the law was enacted on January 1, 2020 the vast majority of legal weed firms that were intent on participating in Chicago eventually sought out opportunities elsewhere. Ultimately, a mere seven stores opened their doors in the city.

Moreover, the proposal seeks to eradicate the city’s seven cannabis zones, eliminate their licensing caps and banish a related zoning lottery.