WE DON’T WANT IT!: A Rallying Cry From 8th Ward Residents Against a Medical Marijuana Dispensary Coming to Their Ward

(CopyLine Magazine) – The message was loud and clear at two community meetings sponsored by the Eighth Ward Accountability Coalition (a community organization) where hundreds turned out in numbers:  8th Ward residents do not want a medical marijuana dispensary in their ward!!!! Several residents attending the meetings in opposition to the dispensary have lived in the area for 40 years or more. They were angry because there had been no public hearing by the alderman’s office to inform them of the dispensary coming to the ward. But they praised the Eighth Ward Accountability Coalition for being the catalyst in getting the message out to the community. If not for the Coalition (EWAC), most community residents would not have been privy to this transforming information regarding the area.

The proposed dispensary,  a joint venture of California-based Harborside Health Center and Illinois Grown Medicine (IGM), will be located at 1111 E. 87th Street.

Jerry Brown, an official with EWAC, as well as other attendees at the two meetings said the bottom line is transparency.

“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.”

8th Ward Alderman Michelle Harris is holding an 8th Ward Community Forum to discuss “a medical cannabis dispensary in the neighborhood”,Tuesday, August 11, 2015 at Olive Harvey College Gymnasium, 10001 S. Woodlawn Ave., from 5:30-7:30 p.m. For more information, you can call the alderman’s office at 773 874-3300.

An application for a special use permit to locate the business at the proposed location was approved by the Chicago 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.

A meeting on the dispensary is scheduled before the Zoning Board of Appeals on Friday, August 21st at 121 N. LaSalle Street, Room 200 at 2 p.m. For more information on EWAC’s plans, you can contact Brown at 630-542-7320 or jrbcomm@yahoo.com.

Effective community organizations are worth their weight in informing the community about happenings that concern them which are not in their best interest. Just recently, Johnny Acoff, Vice President of South Shore Gardens Betterment Association, and members of his organization worked steadfast and were successful in keeping a pawn shop from opening its door in the community. Both Brown and Acoff should be commended for their tireless efforts in working with and keeping the community abreast of important and key issues affecting them and their neighborhoods.

Photo: By Clarence McMillan

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