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Where Could Recreational Weed Be Sold In Chicago Come January? Answers To Your Legal Weed Questions

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An illustration of a map of Chicago with arrows pointing at various parts asking: 'Here?' or 'There?'

Paula Friedrich

Updated Dec. 9, 2019

Where in Chicago will recreational cannabis be sold come January?

That’s the question Karsten Topelmann had about legal weed in Illinois, which he sent in to WBEZ.

The short answer: So far, existing medical dispensaries have received licenses to also sell recreational pot.

But more dispensaries will be popping up. In October, City Council approved regulations for where cannabis businesses could be located in the city.

Under these rules, businesses must be:

  1. 500 feet away from a school.

  2. 1,500 feet away from another dispensary.

  3. Located in areas the city has approved for commercial, business or manufacturing use. (Note: Only “cannabis cultivation centers” would be allowed to set up in areas zoned for manufacturing — but they would be able to use 20% — or up to 3,000 square feet — of their space to sell products.)

  4. Located outside of a “Cannabis Free Zone” downtown.

The ordinance also sets up seven “Cannabis Zone Districts” that are limited to seven dispensaries each. In May 2020, that number will go up to 14 per district.

So once all those regulations are applied, where could businesses be located? We mapped it out for you. It’s an approximation — so consider this a broad look.

The purple areas below show where a cannabis business would be allowed to operate. The seven cannabis zone districts are outlined in red. Areas where cannabis businesses won’t be allowed, due to proximity to schools or existing dispensaries, are shaded in red. We’ve also included the dispensaries that have already received a license for recreational sales.

How we did this:

This map was built by filtering the boundaries of City of Chicago’s zoning designations for “B3, C1, C2, C3, DC, DX, DS, M1, M2, M3 and PMD” as outlined in Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s proposed ordinance. A 500-foot buffer was created around every school in Chicago listed in the Illinois State Board of Education’s directory. A 1,500-foot buffer was created around every existing medical marijuana dispensary in Chicago, from a list provided by the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation.

Can’t see the map above? Click here.

Paula Friedrich is WBEZ’s interactive producer. You can follow her on Twitter at @pauliebe.

Mariah Woelfel is a producer at WBEZ. You can follow her on Twitter @MariahWoelfel.

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