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Rogers Park Residents Give Blunt Opinions on Proposed Medical Marijuana Dispensary

Owen Ruggiero | The PHOENIXA recent community meeting held in Pottawattamie Park revealed mixed feelings among residents about the dispensary’s proposed location.

A company that builds and operates medical marijuana dispensaries in the Chicagoland area, 420 Capital Management, proposed opening a facility in early 2017 in north Rogers Park.

If approved by the City of Chicago, the new GreenGate Compassion Center would operate under Illinois’ “Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis” pilot program, which allows people diagnosed with certain illnesses — including cancer, Parkinson’s disease and PTSD — to apply for medical cards for purchasing medical cannabis.

At a community meeting on Sept. 28 in Pottawattamie Park, near the proposed site of the dispensary (1930 W Chase Ave), area residents voiced mixed reactions to Bob Kingsley, the owner of 420 Capital Management, and Ald. Joe Moore (49th Ward).

Many residents expressed support for medicinal cannabis and the positive effects it has on patients who have the illnesses included on the State of Illinois’ list. Others were concerned, however, with the location of the proposed clinic.

GreenGate Compassion Center would be located at the intersection of Chase Avenue and Rogers Avenue, a few blocks away from the Howard Red Line station. This is a residential area, according to City of Chicago zoning.

Kingsley told residents they shouldn’t worry about the dispensary impacting children who live in the neighborhood. GreenGate would have professional security guards on duty 24 hours per day and a large network of security cameras, which would stream video directly to the Illinois State Police.

“It’ll be more secure than the bank,” Kingsley said.

Kingsley also assured residents that children wouldn’t be exposed to customers smoking marijuana around the facility. Any use or consumption of cannabis would be prohibited on the property, and it is illegal to smoke marijuana in public.

Some students, despite not living near the proposed dispensary, understand the concerns expressed by residents.

“I don’t think such a facility should be in a residential neighborhood,” said first-year student Judd Palonpon, 18. “I think it would be more appropriate in a commercial area, with other businesses in the area.”

But the biology and math double major also said people should “embrace change” and not be too fearful of medicinal cannabis, since it can be helpful to those with the aforementioned diseases.

This sentiment was echoed by Joan Holden, a nurse practitioner and the associate director of Loyola’s Wellness Center, who said that medical cannabis’ ability to treat some ailments is “well documented.”

However, Holden said that she supports the drug policies of Loyola’s Community Standards, which do not allow any possession or use of drugs on campus, including in the dorms.

These rules make it difficult for students who live on campus but are allowed to use medical cannabis by the State of Illinois to do so.

“I don’t agree with Loyola’s drug policies,” said Loyola student Rory McPeak, 21.

McPeak, who is also the president of Loyola’s chapter of Students for Sensible Drug Policy, called the rules set forth in the Community Standards “harmful.” Many of these rules, however, are the result of federal drug policies, according to the senior economics major.

Despite the campus-wide ban on medical marijuana, students who meet the criteria set forth by the state would still be able to purchase it.

“If they have a card, simply, they can get a hold of the medicine. If they don’t have a card, they can’t get into the [dispensary] building,” Kingsley said.

Kingsley offered no solution as to how or where students would be able to use the cannabis once they purchased it, given the restrictions of Loyola’s policy.

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