River North Residents Share Their Concerns About Potential Opening Of Marijuana Dispensary

Jim Gudas
January 29, 2020 - 11:00 am

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CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- Owners of a proposed recreational marijuana dispensary in River North held a public meeting Tuesday night in hopes of easing the concerns of some neighbors and residents. 

Cresco Labs, which runs 25 marijuana dispensaries around the country, plans to open a Sunnyside Dispensary on Clark near Grand. Spokesperson Jason Erkes said the company has an excellent track record and its planned dispensary will be a good neighbor.

"We want to show the neighbors that we are just like any other retail operation, like a Walgreens, like a CVS, with a secure environment," he said.

He also said the company's plans are not limited to River North.

"We want to put dispensaries in mainstream retail corridors across the city and across the country; and have an atmosphere that's very welcoming, just like a Whole Foods, or a Starbucks, or a Sephora," Erkes said.

But River North resident Christine Szymanski said she is concerned about how customers will behave after using marijuana, as well as the people the dispensary will attract to River North from other parts of the city.

"We have a lot of problems with the Grand Red Line station on State Street. We have the Chicago Red Line station," she said.

Jay Ceithaml, also from River North, said he also worries about unruly behavior by customers, as well as increased crime and the effect the dispensary will have on life in River North.

"It has already got out of hand since even before January 1, so that's my concern," he said.

River North resident Scott Wadsworth said he worries that the dispensary will have a similar effect as nightclubs in the neighborhood, which he said creates long lines outside the establishments. He said he's also concerned about the behavior of customers at the marijuana dispensary.

Cresco hopes to open the River North dispensary as early as this spring.