CHICAGO (CBS) — With recreational marijuana becoming legal in Illinois in less than a month, city officials will hold two community meetings in Chicago this week to help answer any questions people might have about the new state law.
The meetings will be held at 6 p.m. on Thursday at Malcolm X College, at 1900 W. Jackson Blvd; and at 6 p.m. Friday at Chicago State University’s Breakey Theatre, at 9501 S. King Dr.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s office said people who attend the meetings will have a chance to ask questions and provide input about the legalization of recreational pot starting on Jan. 1.
Advocacy groups, public safety officials, medical professionals, and legal aid organizations will help provide answers about changes to marijuana regulations and enforcement, licensing for pot businesses, expungement of marijuana convictions, and potential public health impacts of legal weed.
“From righting the generation-old wrongs of our past to building equitable opportunities for our residents, the legalization of cannabis in Illinois represents nothing short of a historic, transformative moment for all communities in our state,” the mayor said in a statement. “Transparency and inclusion have been at the heart of our efforts since day one, and these additional community meetings serve an important role in ensuring Chicago’s residents continue to have a voice in shaping smart and effective cannabis regulations to guide implementation next year.”
Last week, aldermen signed off on the mayor’s plan to reduce penalties and fines for carrying and using marijuana in public. While the state law allows for recreational use of marijuana for adults aged 21 and older, pot use is still banned in public places, and limited only to private homes. It also will remain illegal to carry marijuana near schools, public parks, daycare centers, or correctional facilities.
The mayor’s ordinance also prevents the city from impounding a person’s car if there is a small amount of marijuana inside, but police could still seize vehicles if they’re being used to illegally buy or sell marijuana. Under state law, recreational pot sales will be restricted to licensed shops.
The city also has set out zoning rules for where recreational weed can be sold in Chicago, banning sales from a downtown exclusion zone, and dividing the rest of the city into seven zones where dispensaries can set up shop.
The downtown exclusion zone where pot sales is banned is divided into two areas, north and south of the Chicago River. The boundaries north of the river would extend from Lake Michigan to State Street, and from the river to Division Street. South of the river, the boundaries would stretch from Lake Michigan on the East to the Chicago River on the west, and south to Van Buren Street.
The city’s zoning rules for marijuana sales also would require anyone seeking to operate a pot shop in areas of the city typically reserved for storefronts to obtain a city permit and a zoning change, which would require City Council approval and give aldermen more oversight of recreational weed businesses.