CHATHAM — A local coalition is opposed to a plan to open a medical marijuana dispensary in Chatham.
The Eighth Ward Accountability Coalition, which formed during the 2015 elections, is holding a meeting at 2 p.m. July 18 at St. Felicitas Catholic Church, 1526 E. 84th Street, to discuss the proposal. The CEO of the proposed dispensary, Lester Hollis, will attend, according to a press release issued by the coalition.
The coalition said it opposes Harborside Illinois Grown Medicine, of California-based Harborside Health Center and Illinois Grown Medicine. The medical marijuana dispensary would be located 1111 E. 87th St.
"Our main concern is the quality of life," said Jerry Brown, a member of the coalition. "The next [concern] is the quality of the ownership." He said that he did some research and found news reports saying that Steven DeAngelo, the founder of Harborside, is a felon convicted of drug distribution. DeAngelo is not allowed to participate in the business operations, but his brother/partner will operate in Illinois, Brown said.
Bringing it to his community is a "slap in the face," he said.
The proposed dispensary would be more in Calumet Heights, which is next door to Chatham, but it would affect Chatham residents just as much, Brown said. He lives in Marynook, a neighborhood in Avalon Park. Brown described the small neighborhood as all black, with most residents either middle class or upper-middle class. He said that people take care of their property and believe in keeping up the quality of life and maintaining a good value system.
"This facility will seriously affect that," he said, adding that the increase foot traffic won't be good for the quiet community.
"We strongly oppose the plans," the coalition said in a statement. "It would be located near Lorraine Dixon Park, Chatham Family Counseling Center, La Rabida Children’s Center, Ada S. McKinley Community Services, and several stable and flourishing neighborhoods. The state law is clear that minimum distances from parks, schools and residential areas be maintained, and the proposed location violates this statute.”
Hollis could not immediately be reached for comment.
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