Eighth Ward Accountability Coalition Hosts Citizen Meeting to Discuss Proposed Opening of a Medical Marijuana Dispensary in Chatham Area

Meeting will be held Saturday, July 18th, 2:00 P.M., at St. Felicitas Catholic Church, 1526 E. 84th Street.

The Eighth Ward Accountability Coalition (EWAC) is hosting a citizen meeting to discuss the proposed opening of a medical marijuana dispensary in the Chatham area. The meeting, which will include Lester Hollis, the CEO of the proposed dispensary, will be held on July 18, 2015 at 2:00 p.m. at St. Felicitas Catholic Church, 1526 E. 84th Street.

EWAC was formed to address these type of issues and we 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.

“The location proposed by Harborside IGM is inconsistent with the state laws regulating these dispensaries,” said Jerry Brown, an official with EWAC. “It would be located near Lorraine Dixon Park, Chatham Family Counseling Center, La Rabida Children’s Center, Ada S. McKinley Community Services, and several stable and flourishing neighborhoods. The state law is clear that minimum distances from parks, schools and residential areas be maintained, and the proposed location violates this statute. Not only that, the proposed site is within the same complex that houses a University of Illinois Extension facility.”

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. The U.S. Department of Justice has taken action to shut down the Harborside operations in California.

EWAC also cites 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.

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