With a new law on the books, Illinois is set to officially legalize recreational marijuana next year. But first, Chicago’s mayor wants to establish where it can and cannot be sold within the state’s major urban center.
Lori Lightfoot, who was elected and assumed office as Chicago’s mayor earlier this year, will reportedly introduce an ordinance on Wednesday that will divide the city into seven separate zones that will determine where the sale of marijuana will be permitted.
According to local news channel ABC7, all of downtown Chicago will be excluded, while special consideration will be given to districts where illegal cannabis sales are prevalent. Local lawmakers say they don’t want those neighborhoods excluded from the potential economic windfall from dispensaries.
But some officials who represent the downtown districts feel snubbed by the proposal, arguing that their areas could use that additional revenue, too.
“It doesn’t make sense from a revenue perspective,” said 2nd Ward Alderman Brian Hopkins, as quoted by ABC7. “There’s no question that we would generate the most revenue if we have dispensaries in the downtown area, also capturing money from tourists is the key to anything we are doing.”
In addition, the ordinance would limit the number of dispensaries per district to seven. And the city is also considering requirements that would prohibit marijuana shops within 500 feet of schools or other areas zoned as residential.
Illinois became the 11th state in the U.S. to legalize recreational marijuana in June after Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed legislation allowing adults aged 21 and over to buy and possess up to one ounce of cannabis at licensed dispensaries. The law will also enable individuals who have been busted for possessing or purchasing upwards of 30 ounces of marijuana or less to potentially have those records expunged—a provision that could affect almost 800,000 people in Illinois.
Authorized dispensaries will be able to begin selling January 1, 2020.
In signing the bill, Pritzker, who was elected governor last year, made good on a campaign pledge.
“In the past 50 years, the war on cannabis has destroyed families, filled prisons with nonviolent offenders, and disproportionately disrupted black and brown communities,” Pritzker said at the time of signing the bill. “Each year, law enforcement across the nation has spent billions of dollars to enforce the criminalization of cannabis. […] Yet its consumption remains widespread.”
Pritzker offered up bullish revenue projections during last year’s campaign, claiming that a legal cannabis marketplace could generate as much as $800 million to $1 billion in taxes for the state, but some Democratic legislators have tempered those lofty estimates.
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