The tricky thing about aldermanic privilege and marijuana shops

Aldermen Brian Hopkins and Walter Burnett say pot companies aren’t asking for their help with hosting or scheduling meetings

TRD CHICAGO /
Mar.March 05, 2020 12:30 PM
Alerman Walter Burnett and Alderman Brian Hopkins (Credit: (Photo by Robin Marchant/Getty Images for car2go)

Alerman Walter Burnett and Alderman Brian Hopkins (Credit: (Photo by Robin Marchant/Getty Images for car2go)

Mayor Lori Lightfoot is attempting to curb aldermanic privilege as cannabis companies jockey for prime real estate, according to the aldermen overseeing two of Chicago’s most attractive and active wards.

Aldermen Brian Hopkins (2nd) and Walter Burnett (27th) told the Sun-Times that they haven’t been able to provide adequate input on the proposed dispensary locations within their territory. They also claim companies haven’t asked them to schedule and host community meetings on proposed dispensaries, leading to conflicting meetings in at least one case.

As part of her ethics reforms, Lightfoot tried to rein in aldermen’s ability to approve or deny licensing and permitting, including zoning, in their wards immediately after she took office.

Hopkins and Burnett argue that it’s important for them to have a hand in deciding where dispensaries can go because they have a deeper understanding of their wards and its residents.

“We’re the eyes and ears for the community and the city,” Burnett told the Sun-Times. “If we don’t have control of the process, we’re not able to see the feelings and sentiments of the people and the community that we represent.”

Burnett opposes a proposal by Wheaton-based NuMed to open a dispensary right next to the Haymarket Center drug treatment facility in Fulton Market. [Sun-Times] — Brianna Kelly


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