RIVER NORTH — Cannabis companies are so desperate to open in River North that they’re willing to build four dispensaries — even though only one of them will get the state approval needed to open in the neighborhood.
It’s a gamble four companies appear willing to take for a chance at the lucrative prize: Being the closest dispensary to the workers of the Loop and the tourists of the Magnificent Mile and River North.
“A collision course,” is how the neighborhood’s alderman, Brendan Reilly, describes the situation. He said he warned the companies not to jam into the same area, where only one will be allowed, but the companies took the risk nonetheless.
On Friday, their battle will play out before the city’s Zoning Board of Appeals. It’s just one of several rounds the eventual winner will have to survive to win the permit.
The Zoning Board can approve a “special use permit” for as many dispensaries as it members choose. But because state law does not allow two dispensaries to open within 1,500 feet of each other, only one of the four will get a license for their chosen locations.
The four River North applications before the board Friday are:
— Cresco Labs, 436 N. Clark St.
— PharmaCann, 444 N. LaSalle St.
— The Greenhouse Group, 612 N. Wells St.
— MOCA Modern Cannabis, 214-232 W. Ohio St.
Those four — along with all companies permitted to sell legal cannabis right now — were a part of the state’s medical marijuana program before recreational sales became legal. The state law that legalized weed permitted each company to convert to dual use, medical and recreational, and to also open a second, standalone recreational dispensary.
The companies were among the five lucky winners of the November lottery that allowed companies to select