CHICAGO — Following three long and contentious meetings, the city’s Zoning Board of Appeals approved permits for two new weed dispensaries close to Downtown without any objection Friday.
The Herbal Care Center, at 222 S. Halsted St. in Greektown, and PharmaCann, at 60 W. Superior St. in River North, received special-use permits at the monthly virtual meeting of the board. The permits are a city requirement, but the two proposed dispensaries still need a state license before they can open.
In August, the board rejected PharmaCann’s bid to open a dispensary on Maple Street in the Gold Coast at 2:15 a.m. after 12 hours of debate, led by opposing attorney Eugene Murphy and at least 50 residents who didn’t want a dispensary opening in their affluent neighborhood.
The September and October meetings were contentious at first as well, but ended with dispensaries NuEra and Dispensary 33 getting the city’s approval to open across the street from one another in the West Loop.
On Friday, neither dispensary application was opposed by neighbors. If they receive state licenses, they will become the 15th and 16th dispensaries to open in Chicago.
The two approvals come after statewide cannabis sales eclipsed $100 million in October for the first time since recreational sales began in January. They also followed Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s decision to avoid laying off 350 city workers in 2021 by borrowing $15 million against the city’s future tax revenues from cannabis sales.
But cannabis operators have complained the city’s zoning rules have prevented more dispensaries from opening in the city. Cannabis industry newsletter Grown In reported 10 companies are looking to open in the suburbs rather than deal with Chicago’s bureaucratic slowdowns or aldermanic indifference.
On Friday, Zoning Board Chairman Timothy Knudsen extended the deadline for city dispensary applications until March 2021,