WICKER PARK — A second-generation pharmacist has partnered with his tenants — the owners of a neighboring arcade bar — to try to bring a medical marijuana dispensary to Wicker Park.
"We are not opening a weed pot shop; it's a professional operation with licensed pharmacists on duty if we are fortunate enough to get the license," said Barry Golin, owner of Barry's Drugs, an independent pharmacy at 1370 N. Milwaukee Ave.
Alisa Hauser says there are many hurdles for the proposed dispensary:
Golin's plan has the support of 1st Ward Ald. Joe Moreno, although it needs state approval. If Golin gets permission from the state, he hopes to be open next year to dispense marijuana for people with prescriptions, he said.
Barry's Drugs was founded in 1946 by Golin's father, Ed Golin.
On Sept. 1, the state began to accept applications for patients seeking medical marijuana, and for those aiming to operate cultivation centers and dispensaries as part of a Medical Cannabis Pilot Program.
The state will only grant 60 dispensary licenses, 13 of which can be located in the city of Chicago.
Golin is also the landlord for his two business partners, Daniel and Doug Marks, brothers who own Emporium Arcade Bar at 1366 N. Milwaukee Ave., which opened in 2012. Emporium Arcade Bar rents an adjacent storefront at 1368 N. Milwaukee Ave. that is being used for an expanded game room.
The Marks and Golin would like to rehab the game room and convert it into the Modern Medicine Dispensary, which would be walled off from Barry's Drugs and Emporium Arcade.
The plan is not without hurdles.
First, the city must allow a special-use permit for operating the dispensary. The final decision on where medical marijuana dispensaries can open is made by the State of Illinois.
A public notice hanging in the window of the arcade announces a request by Professional Pharmacy Management, which would do business under the name Modern Medicine Dispensary, to establish a medical marijuana dispensary.
Before an Oct. 17 hearing at the city's Zoning Board of Appeals, which considers special-use permits, Modern Medicine Dispensary sent a letter to neighbors living within a few hundred feet of their proposed business and launched a website.
On Monday, Moreno (1st) said he was approached by 30 entities seeking special-use permits to open dispensaries in West Township. That area of the city, which includes the 1st Ward, will be able to host only two of Chicago's 13 dispensary licenses.
Moreno said that the application from Golin and the Marks brothers was the only one he was supporting. The alderman noted Golin, as a pharmacist, "has been dispensing far more serious drugs such as oxycotin, which is more addictive than marijuana."
For those interested in learning more about the plan, Moreno is is co-hosting a community meeting with Daniel and Doug Marks and Golin from 9:30-11 a.m. on Sept. 27.
"It's wise to go local first then have the state review [the application]. The community meeting is vital. I want people to come out and ask questions like, 'Who are your customers, what's your security plan?' "
Because "it's such a big deal, it's new, the first one," Moreno said he wanted to "have a robust community meeting."
Moreno says he had always been a supporter of medical marijuana "because it will help people with significant diseases."
"I think in five to 10 years, we will look back on this and say we have bars that are more of a danger to the community than a dispensary," the alderman said.
Golin confirmed he has a 50 percent stake in the company and Danny and Doug Marks each have a 25 percent stake.
Annette Sollars, owner of Eye Want Eye Wear at 1431 N. Milwaukee Ave., said that she planned to go to the community meeting and even use the proposed dispensary.
"Barry [Golin] should be the one to get the license. It's a controlled substance; it should go to a pharmacist," Sollars said.
Sollars, a breast cancer patient, has a prescription for Marinol, an oral marijuana medication that she has taken for the past four years.
Sollars said the only part that "does not make sense" to her was the fact the Emporium Arcade Bar owners would be involved in the operation.
When asked about the connection, Moreno said, "I believe [Daniel and Doug Marks] success at monitoring the serving of alcohol is a plus as it could easily be argued that alcohol is more dangerous than cannabis."
Daniel Marks declined to comment.
For more information on Golin, watch this video by Hexagram Productions, which appeared in the Chicago Pipeline blog in 2009.
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