March , 2019

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Calumet Heights and Chatham residents are furious over alderman’s “lackluster” response about medical marijuana dispensary

By Juanita Bratcher

Author, Editor & Publisher, CopyLine Magazine

Alderman Michelle Harris (8th Ward) was a “no-show” at a meeting where 8th Ward residents were furious and outraged over a medical marijuana dispensary headed to their area. If she had attended the meeting she would have seen a voracious crowd of angry residents chanting “We don’t want it”, “not in my neighborhood”, alluding to the dispensary.

Lester Hollis, Illinois Grown Medicine Chief Executive Officer, a partner in the dispensary, was also a no-show at the meeting.

The proposed dispensary will be located at 1111 E. 87th St.

Prior to the meeting held July 18th at St. Felicitas Catholic Church, 1526 E. 84th Street, sponsored by the Eighth Ward Accountability Coalition (a community organization), Calumet Heights and Chatham community residents complained and questioned why Alderman Harris did not hold a public hearing to inform 8th Ward residents of the medical marijuana dispensary coming to their area, something they are adamant about and do not want in the mostly middle-class community. Many said they were not aware of it until EWAC informed them through flyers, and stepped in to fill the void…to tell them the status of the dispensary and of going to the August 21st meeting scheduled before the Zoning Board of Appeals.

At the meeting they wanted to know why Alderman Harris did not attend the meeting and accused her of being insensitive and disrespectful to the community. However, Deborah Stanley, who was there to represent the alderman said the alderman was with the community, which many said they don’t  believe; and said if she was with the community, why didn’t she attend the meeting and deliver the message herself.

Harris did not return a telephone call to CopyLine Magazine asking for comment on the medical marijuana dispensary.

EWAC said they strongly oppose the plans of Harborside Illinois Grown Medicine, a joint venture of California-based Harborside Health Center and Illinois Grown Medicine (IGM), to locate a dispensary at 1111 E. 87th Street, noting that it is “inconsistent” with state laws regulating dispensaries.

EWAC is also concerned with the ownership and management of the proposed business. According to news reports, Steven DeAngelo, a felon convicted of drug distribution and founder of Harborside, is barred from participating in the business operations but his brother, Andrew DeAngelo is the Harborside partner who will be involved in Illinois. Reportedly, the U.S. Department of Justice has taken action to shut down the Harborside operations in California.

Since the medical marijuana dispensary has already been approved by the Chicago City Council, residents are pinning their hope on the Zoning Board of Appeals to stop it. A hearing is scheduled before the board on August 21, and a large group of residents said they plan to attend the meeting.

In an earlier report in CopyLine Magazine, EWAC cited a quote by Lester Hollis, IGM Chief Executive Officer, as a concern about exploitation of the solidly middle class neighborhood. “From the beginning of this process, [the South Side] was where we wanted to be. If we had to choose one area, that was where we would have prepared to be,” Hollis said, because “that’s where African-Americans are and we think we can be most impactful there.”

“It appears to us that the goal of this venture is not to provide medical marijuana to those who are ill and have legitimate medical prescriptions but to circumvent the laws and regulations as they do in California and elsewhere to make marijuana widely available to anyone who wants it. This is not good for our neighborhoods and we want the citizens of this area to know what is taking place,” Brown said. “Throughout the process, citizens have been kept in the dark by the company, the alderman and the zoning board.”

An application for a special use permit to locate the business at the proposed location was approved by the city council and is now before the city’s Zoning Board of Appeals. The board has deferred a decision on the matter for the second time. First, it wanted to ensure that Steven DeAngelo was not involved in the business. The second deferral was granted at the request of EWAC, which complained about the failure of the ward’s alderman to hold public meetings or post adequate notice of the proposed dispensary.

In the meantime, the 8th Ward community is still waiting to hear from Harris and they question why she didn’t hold a public hearing to hear what the community had to say about a medical marijuana dispensary coming in or to give them an overall view of the effects this business endeavor will possibly bring.

For more information on EWAC, contact: Jerry Brown 630-542-7320 jrbcomm@yahoo.com

Juanita Bratcher is an Award-Winning Journalist, the Publisher of www.copylinemagazine.com and the author of several books, songwriter and poet. She has been a Journalist for more than 39 years covering politics, education and a wide-range of other topics.

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Welcome to CopyLine Magazine! The first issue of CopyLine Magazine was published in November, 1990, by Editor & Publisher Juanita Bratcher. CopyLine’s main focus is on the political arena – to inform our readers and analyze many of the pressing issues of the day - controversial or otherwise. Our objectives are clear – to keep you abreast of political happenings and maneuvering in the political arena, by reporting and providing provocative commentaries on various issues. For more about CopyLine Magazine, CopyLine Blog, and CopyLine Television/Video, please visit juanitabratcher.com, copylinemagazine.com, and oneononetelevision.com. Bratcher has been a News/Reporter, Author, Publisher, and Journalist for 33 years. She is the author of six books, including “Harold: The Making of a Big City Mayor” (Harold Washington), Chicago’s first African-American mayor; and “Beyond the Boardroom: Empowering a New Generation of Leaders,” about John Herman Stroger, Jr., the first African-American elected President of the Cook County Board. Bratcher is also a Poet/Songwriter, with 17 records – produced by HillTop Records of Hollywood, California. Juanita Bratcher Publisher

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