Chicago may loosen recreational marijuana rules for downtown

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CHICAGO — A new plan would loosen some of the city's upcoming restrictions on recreational marijuana.

The city's original plan would ban marijuana sales in nearly all of downtown. The zoning committee held a hearing Tuesday evening to discuss whether to allow sales in a part of the River North neighborhood. It will be continued Wednesday morning.

After an original exclusion zone of Oak Street to the north, Lake Michigan to the east and Ida B. Wells Drive to the south, the mayor's new proposal will get dispensaries closer to the Magnificent Mile.

Sales would be allowed in River North west of State Street, instead of LaSalle. But the banned area would extend farther north, from Oak Street to Division Street.

Many residents are happy the zone is getting expanded in the Central Business District.

"We support the creation of the seven zones to promote a more fair and uniform distribution of cannabis businesses," a resident said

Others are upset that the city does not want to open up marijuana dispensaries on the magnificent mile.

"The city is missing an opportunity to increase economic opportunity in the program and generate significant sales tax revenue," a resident said.

Mayor Lightfoot said while her office is sympathetic to aldermen's concerns, this starts and ends in Springfield.

“While we’re sympathetic, and we understand the concerns, the way to fix this is in Springfield through legislation," Mayor Lightfoot said. "And I’m not sure where they were during the spring session.”

She still plans to allow seven licenses in each of the seven districts across the city.

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