Old Rainforest Cafe Site Gets OK From Chicago Zoning Board for Weed Dispensary – NBC Chicago

Plans for a cannabis dispensary at the former Rainforest Cafe in River North got a green light from the Chicago Zoning Board of Appeals early Saturday.

The board heard the case for four hours, then voted 3-1 in favor of the application after reconvening around 12:45 a.m. Saturday following a closed session.

Robert Brown, a neighborhood resident, had asked the board to reject the dispensary’s application, questioning Progressive Treatment Solutions’ role in its partnership with BioPharm to take over the former restaurant site at 605 N. Clark St.

Brown questioned the partners’ eligibility under state law as a social equity firm — the qualifying factor allowing the companies to open a Consume brand dispensary in River North, an area that’s already packed with weed shops.

Illinois law bars dispensaries from opening within 1,500 feet of an existing weed shop except in the case of ownership by a social equity applicant, a legislative effort to increase minority ownership in the booming industry. Four dispensaries are now operating within 1,500 feet of the proposed shop, and PTS, which initially proposed the plan on its own, without partners, didn’t qualify as a social equity firm.

The company eventually teamed up with BioPharm, a social

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