City holds first public meeting on recreational marijuana

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CHICAGO — The first in a series of public meetings was held Tuesday evening as the City of Chicago asks the public to weigh in on legal sales of recreational marijuana.

A new state law will allow recreational marijuana to be sold to people 21 and older starting Jan. 1.

Tuesday’s meeting was held at Malcolm X College. Mayor Lori Lightfoot said her office wants to hear from residents, business owners and others about where businesses that sell marijuana should be allowed to operate.

Lightfoot introduced an ordinance last month to create Chicago's first zoning regulations for marijuana sales.

She's proposing the city establish seven zones across Chicago and cap the number of dispensaries in each zone. The plan would ban sales in most of Chicago's downtown and within 500 feet of a school.

“There’s a notion out there that this is going to be a very big windfall of cash to the city,” the mayor said. “It’s not going to be. Our estimates, which I think are fairly accurate, are about

$10 million a year, in a $10.5 billion budget with an $838 million deficit for next year.”

She said it’s important to get it right, but said recreational marijuana sales are not going to make a huge difference in the “fortunes of the city.” However, the mayor said it’s important to get input from the community.

Two more meetings are planned for Wednesday and Thursday.

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