Would-be Chicago Medical Marijuana Farms, Dispensaries Get Zoning Approval


The Chicago Zoning Board gave initial approval to a handful of dispensaries and one large grow operation late last week, bringing patients one step closer to accessing medical cannabis in the Windy City.
Perry Mandera, a strip club owner, was granted approval for his grow operation and dispensary after the board questioned him on security measures, including how he would prevent workers from walking off with pot.

Mandera, who has named his grow and dispensary Custom Strains, says he’s invested about $10 million into his cultivation site so far and that he would have security measures in place to prevent theft from inside and outside of the 32,000 square-foot grow in Chicago’s Southeast Side.
The approval from the zoning board doesn’t necessarily mean the dispensaries will ever open. The city plans to open 13 dispensaries and two grow locations in total, but zoning approval is needed before licensing can move forward. The licensing process has been somewhat slowed by the Chicago City Council’s inability to decide on rules and regulations. For example, city leaders are still debating whether or not dispensaries and grow operations should be required to have 24/7 security, including cameras. They’ve also set up hurdles like the zoning requirements for the dispensaries.
Chicago City Alderman Ed Burke has been pushing for the security requirement, despite pushback from the business community as well as other city leaders. Many have said additional security measures may violate the state marijuana laws. Burke says he’s going ahead with his proposal with or without the opinion of the city attorney.
“Lawyers can have different opinions, and my attorneys tell me we’re on very solid ground with this,” Burke told the Chicago Tribune. “And I believe a majority of members of the City Council will support it as well.”
The zoning board also denied one dispensary in Wicker Park, mostly due to community opposition.