Park Ridge not considering marijuana dispensary proposals until state licenses, now on hold, are granted

Eight months after the Park Ridge City Council agreed to allow Marijuana dispensaries in the city, a pause on issuing new licenses at the state level has prevented any potential businesses from seeking approval to come to Park Ridge.

Richard Peters, senior planner for the city, said no proposals for Marijuana dispensaries will be considered by staff or the city’s planning and zoning commission until the applicants are granted a state license.

“There’s been a couple of people who have reached out about applying, but until they have a license in hand, they can’t apply for a special-use review,” Peters said. “So nothing is moving forward at this time.”

The last recreational Marijuana Dispensary licenses were issued by the state of Illinois in March, according to the most recent list published by the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation.

New licenses are in limbo due to an ongoing court case. In August, Cook County Judge Moshe Jacobius ordered that the state not award any new Dispensary licenses until he issues a ruling in the case.

Wah Group LLC had filed a lawsuit alleging that state officials wrongly eliminated one of its applications for a Dispensary near St. Louis.

Other lawsuits have also been filed challenging the state licensing process.

Three lotteries for new licenses were held in July and August, but the 185 new licenses cannot be issued before Jacobius’ ruling.

Peters said the city has received calls from “a lot of people asking general questions” about the city’s Marijuana Dispensary ordinance, though staff have not documented the number of inquiries. Potential locations are also unknown, Peters said.

On Feb. 1, the Park Ridge City Council voted to permit no more than two recreational Marijuana dispensaries within the city. The ordinance bars dispensaries from opening in districts zoned for office use and within a large portion of the Uptown commercial district, primarily south of Touhy Avenue, from Busse Highway on the west to roughly one block west of Washington Street on the east.

Any business that wants to open a Dispensary in Park Ridge will need to apply for a special-use permit, which requires a public hearing and approval from the planning and zoning commission and City Council.

Applicants will need to adhere to specific requirements that are included in the Dispensary ordinance. Dispensaries are prohibited within 100 feet of a school or park, drive-thru services are not allowed, and dispensaries cannot be open later than 10 p.m. or earlier than 6 a.m. Police will have access to the Dispensary’s video surveillance and will be allowed to inspect the business at any time, according to the ordinance.

If a Dispensary opens in Park Ridge, the city will receive an additional 3% tax on products sold.

While the city is not accepting any Dispensary applications at this time, “we will expect them in the future,” Peters said.

“Until we get applications, we are still months out from even considering anything,” he added.

Neighboring communities of Niles, Rosemont and Chicago’s Northwest Side each have Marijuana dispensaries currently operating.

The Park Ridge City Council held off on allowing recreational Marijuana businesses when Marijuana use by adults 21 years old and over was legalized by the state of Illinois in 2019. The law became effective on Jan. 1, 2020.

After 60% of Park Ridge voters in November 2020 said the city should allow retail sales of recreational Marijuana, the City Council moved forward on establishing local regulations in order for such businesses to operate.

—Robert McCoppin contributed

Author: Jennifer Johnson