* Ladies and gentleman, the Chicago Tribune…
This week, Mayor Lori Lightfoot proposed that marijuana dispensaries be allocated throughout the city, except not in downtown.
In explaining her decision, Lightfoot said she wants to keep the center of Chicago “family friendly.” The mayor also wants to assure that entrepreneurs from communities throughout the city, including the West and South sides, benefit financially. Lightfoot’s deputy mayor for economic and neighborhood development, Samir Mayekar, told the Tribune, “From a public safety standpoint as the industry develops, it was best to exclude (downtown) from operations.” […]
The family-friendly vibe Lightfoot seeks to protect won’t be jeopardized by a small number of new legal businesses that aren’t so different in principle from liquor stores and bars, some of which operate on sidewalks. The city is careful about permitting liquor stores downtown rather than banning them. It can apply similar prudence to marijuana dispensaries. As for the mayor’s office’s broadly stated concern about public safety, that’s an issue across the city for different reasons in different neighborhoods. It’s hard to see how highly regulated cannabis sales exacerbate the challenges. […]
Certainly the idea of newly opened purveyors of sativa buds and the like might be jarring at first. Recreational marijuana sales will mark a new chapter in the city’s evolution. Chicago will need to find its comfort zone. Downtown should be part of the mix.
This is the same Tribune editorial board that complained constantly about how the cannabis legalization bill should be slowed down and saved for another time. Now they’re all about putting weed shops downtown.
Hey, I’ll take it. I ain’t complaining.
We talked about the “family friendly” silliness yesterday, but the “public safety” angle also deserves a look.
* Remember this story?…
New research shows crime rates dropped substantially in areas with marijuana dispensaries, running counter to fears that pot shops drum up crime.
The mayor is either getting some very bad advice, or her gut is just wrong on this one.
* Greg Hinz: Downtown is a Chicago neighborhood, too: Though Lightfoot may be tempted to forget it, downtown Chicago is home to 200,000 residents and the city’s jobs engine. Shorting those folks is a bad way to help needier areas of the city.
* Joe Cahill: Lightfoot’s no-toke zone makes no sense: The mayor wants to declare a potentially lucrative swath of Chicago off-limits to marijuana retailers. But why?