Chicago appears ready to embrace the cannabis industry

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The Windy City is expanding its plans to offer cannabis shops

It looks like the cannabis industry may have a better relationship with Chicago after the city council yesterday decided to lift restrictions on marijuana sales in most of downtown, in addition to relaxing zoning rules in the rest of the city. As part of the news also comes the opening of a new marijuana store in Chicago.

The 33-13 vote came exactly six days after two aldermen decided to postpone the vote through parliamentary tactics. The intent of these ordinance changes is to make it easier for minority-owned businesses to enter Illinois’ legal marijuana market by giving them the opportunity to open marijuana dispensaries in most areas of downtown, where they were currently being banned.

Under The Windy City’s current rules, marijuana pharmacies are prohibited from opening in the area surrounding Lake Michigan, and other nearby locations. The proposed change significantly expands its “exclusion zone.” As if that weren’t enough, the new rules would also eliminate the seven cannabis zones where Chicago is currently divided, and raise the limit to seven clinics in each of these zones.

Given that there are fewer marijuana businesses open in the city than there are currently in the suburbs, many experts said the city government gave social justice applicants the opportunity to set up stores downtown and the process of running a nearby business. Mayor Lori Lightfoot says she strongly agrees that state law should be changed to better support social equity licensees.