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Mayor Proposes Allowing Pot Use At Tobacco Shops, Cigar Bars, And Hookah Lounges

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Cigar bars, hookah lounges, and other tobacco shops would be authorized to allow customers to smoke weed sometime next year, under a proposed ordinance Mayor Lori Lightfoot has introduced to the City Council.

The mayor introduced her proposal just moments after defeating an effort by the council's Black Caucus to delay recreational marijuana sales in Chicago for six months.

The measure would require a business to make more than 80% of its gross revenues from the sale of tobacco products and smoking accessories in order to allow on-site consumption of marijuana.

A shop also would have to be located in a standalone building with sufficient ventilation to prevent smoke from reaching non-smoking areas. They also would have to be at least 500 feet away from schools and any other business licensed for cannabis consumption.

Owners also would be required to draft a city-approved safety plan designed to prevent excessive noise, loitering, littering, overcrowding, fighting, or other criminal activity.

Those shops also would be required to have surveillance cameras in all smoking areas, and would have to preserve video footage for at least 30 days.

The safety plan also would require businesses that allow marijuana to employ trained security personnel.

Carrying of concealed firearms would be banned at any shop that allows pot use on site, and would not be allowed to sell alcohol, or permit customers to bring in their own liquor.

On-site consumption licenses would not be allowed in the city's "exclusion zone," which includes much of the downtown area, including the Loop and the Magnificent Mile.

The City Council approved the boundaries of the exclusion zone earlier this year after the mayor's office revised the boundaries, due to concerns her original plan would have hurt the amount of revenue the city would see from marijuana taxes.

The exclusion zone includes downtown areas north and south of the Chicago River. On the north side of the river, the boundaries would extend from Lake Michigan to State Street, with the northern boundary at Division Street. South of the river, recreational marijuana would be banned from the lake to the south branch of the river, with the southern boundary at Van Buren Street.

The state's recreational marijuana law originally would have allowed local governments to license restaurants, bars, or other businesses. But in November, state lawmakers passed an amendment to the pot law to restrict on-site consumption licenses to retail tobacco businesses.

The city's proposed rules for on-site consumption will be considered by the City Council License Committee before a full City Council vote, likely sometime next month.

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