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Mayor Lori Lightfoot's Zoning Plan For Legal Marijuana Would Ban Pot Sales In Most Of Downtown Chicago

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Recreational marijuana sales would be banned in most of downtown Chicago, and the rest of the city would be split into seven "cannabis zones" where legal pot dispensaries could operate under Mayor Lori Lightfoot's proposed zoning rules, when weed becomes legal in Illinois next year.

The new state law caps the number of recreational marijuana dispensaries allowed in Chicago, and the mayor's zoning proposal would limit the number of pot businesses in each of seven "cannabis zones" to make sure they are distributed equally across the city.

Lightfoot said that would allow areas targeted by the war on drugs a chance to build business and profit from legal weed, and avoid having marijuana dispensaries concentrated in only a few small areas.

The ordinance also will include an exclusion zone in the Central Business District, where the sale of recreational marijuana will be banned. The exclusion zone would be bounded by Oak Street on the north, Lake Michigan on the east, Ida B. Wells Drive on the south, and LaSalle Street in River North and the Chicago River in the Loop to the west.

The city also would prohibit recreational marijuana sales within 500 feet of a school. City rules also would bar marijuana sales within any designated residential zoning district, or in any building with a residential unit.

The ordinance would allow existing licensed medical marijuana dispensaries to sell recreational pot to anyone who is 21 or older.

The state law prohibits marijuana use in public, but would allow on-site consumption at licensed dispensaries, subject to local regulations. The mayor's office said the city would allow consumption licenses for some weed businesses, but the regulations have not yet been finalized.

The mayor will introduce her zoning proposals at Wednesday's City Council meeting.

If approved by the Zoning Committee, the full City Council could vote on the proposal next month.

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