WICKER PARK — A medical marijuana dispensary run by a second-generation pharmacist and the owners of an arcade bar got one of the few coveted licenses issued by the state and could be opening in Wicker Park as soon as August, it was announced Monday.
"We are happy and relieved to be able to move on to the next steps," said Danny Marks, one of three owners of Modern Medicine Dispensary at 1368 N. Milwaukee Ave. in Wicker Park. "[State officials] clearly were very diligent in making their decision."
Danny Marks and his brother Douglas Marks, who own Emporium Arcade Bar, are teaming up with their landlord, Barry Golin, a second-generation pharmacist, to bring a dispensary to a storefront between both of their existing businesses.
Alisa Hauser explains the license process:
Marks said the dispensary plans to begin applying for permits to build out its 3,000-square-foot space — currently home to a pinball game room — and could be open "as soon as there is product available."
"We will begin all the necessary processes immediately. The growth of marijuana will take three to four months plus the construction of cultivation centers," Danny Marks said.
"So I think six months [in August] is optimistic but possible," Marks said of the dispensary, which will employ around 15 people and be open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily.
Michael Chasen, a retired deputy detective for the Chicago Police Department, is serving as the dispensary's chief security officer.
In September, Chasen detailed a security plan at a community meeting while Golin discussed the need for medical marijuana.
"Prescription painkiller deaths are down 23 percent in states that have medical marijuana. There are a lot of benefits to it," said Golin, who added that he knows people who are seriously ill and going to Michigan, where medical marijuana has been legal since 2008.
"It should have been legal here 20 or 30 years ago," Golin said.
Modern Medicine was among the first dispensaries to be granted a special use permit by the city in October. It is one of two licenses that will be awarded in District 48.
State rules call for two licenses to be awarded in each district, and a total of 13 in Chicago city limits.
A West Loop dispensary run by Perry Mandera, who owns VIP's, a Gentlemen's Club on the Near North Side, hopes to open Custom Strains, a medical marijuana dispensary in a vacant building at 1105 W. Fulton St.
Mandera's application is still "under further review," state officials said.
After Modern Medicine Dispensary, Custom Strains received the second highest score out of a state ranking system that scored nine District 48 dispensary applicants.
The third-highest ranked venture was ABJ Dispensaries at 2723 N. Elston Ave. in Logan Square, owned by John Novak.
Late Monday, it was unclear if Gov. Bruce Rauner will act to eventually award the second license to the Mandera's West Loop facility, or award it to a different firm such as ABJ Dispensaries, which also scored high.
Another local dispensary applicant, Organic Leaf Dispensaries at 744 N. Damen Ave., was ranked 8th of nine on the scorecard.
Ald. Joe Moreno (1st) previously said he supported the Modern Medicine Dispensary.
"They presented an exceptional application to the community and the state," Moreno said Monday.
In addition to Wicker Park, the group had also submitted applications to open dispensaries in suburban Aurora, Norridge and Justice. Only the Wicker Park location was granted a license.
Along with Danny and Doug Marks, Golin and Chasen, the Modern Medicine Management team will include Matthew Engel.
Engel, who previously worked in the medical marijuana industry in California, will serve as the dispensary's product expert, Marks said.
(from l.) Michael Chasen, Barry Golin, Danny Marks, Douglas Marks and Matthew Engel.
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