A cannabis dispensary proposed for Chicago’s upscale West Town neighborhood is drawing opposition from officials at a nearby addiction treatment center, who say the store would pose a risk to the facility’s clients. Licensed cannabis company NuMed wants to open the dispensary on the second floor of a building whose entrance would be on the same block as Haymarket Center, an addiction treatment center that sees visits from about 500 people a day.
Dan Lustig, a psychologist who serves as the president and CEO of Haymarket, said that he is concerned that a cannabis dispensary would be too much of a temptation for people struggling with addiction.
“This will trigger patients to relapse,” Lustig said.
“There’s only two outcomes to substance use disorder: Either you get better or you die. So I’m going to have individuals with life-threatening medical issues having to pass through that to get into treatment here,” he added.
Lustig has solicited support from nearby business owners, prompting the Fulton Market Association to distribute a petition seeking to ban dispensaries from opening within a two-block radius of Haymarket Center.
“We want to create a safe perimeter around the building so that we don’t have to keep fighting this on all fronts,” said Lustig.
An unidentified resident of Haymarket Center said that having a dispensary nearby could make it difficult for some people in recovery.
“I think that it’s tempting to people who are trying to get off drugs,” the person said.
City Alderman Walter Burnett also opposes NuMed’s efforts to locate a dispensary near the addiction treatment center. Burnett, who admitted to abusing alcohol as a teenager, said that he did not want to support actions that might compromise people’s sobriety.
“I support the people that live at Haymarket,” he said. “Haymarket was there first, before all this other stuff came about.”
Company Extends Olive Branch
Johan Rapino, a spokesman for NuMed, recently said that the company hoped to meet with officials of Haymarket Center to help address their concerns.
We want to be friends and we want to work with people as much as we can. … We’re all about the olive branch,” he said.
NuMed isn’t the only cannabis company eyeing the West Town neighborhood as a potential site for a dispensary. Acreage Holdings has proposed opening one of its Nature’s Care retail shops at a location about three blocks from Haymarket Center.
“We are very supportive of Haymarket Center’s work,” said Howard Schacter, a spokesman for Acreage Holdings. “We’re eager to meet with them and discuss their concerns. That said, we’re following the letter of the law in all aspects of our application and operations.”
Lustig of Haymarket Center said that while he knows he won’t be able to block every dispensary that wants to locate in the neighborhood, he is hoping to create a buffer zone of at least several blocks.
“The best-case scenario for us is how far can I push these people back,” Lustig said. “And I want to push them back as far as possible.”
All dispensary licenses are issued by regulators at the state level. Dispensaries planning to operate in Chicago must also gain the approval of the city’s Zoning Board of Appeals.