ROGERS PARK — After failing to launch in West Ridge, a dispensary to sell legally prescribed medical cannabis to patients with debilitating heath issues hopes to find its new home in Rogers Park.
Bob Kingsley, owner of 420 Capital Management LLC, bought the property at 1930 W. Chase Ave. in April and began making structural renovations to the former corner pantry and liquor store with the goal of opening Greengate Compassion Center.
"I'm very excited to see what this new meeting brings," Kingsley said. "And how the people and community of Rogers Park rallies around it, and gives their support to medicine for people who otherwise would be using extremely dangerous opioids and prescription drugs."
Ald. Joe Moore (49th) announced Thursday he would hold a community meeting with Kingsley to discuss the proposal at 7 p.m. Sept. 28 at Pottowattamie Park, 7340 N. Rogers Ave.
The building would first need to be approved for rezoning by the City Council, as well as obtain a special-use permit from the city's Zoning Board of Appeals in order for Kingsley to proceed with the dispensary.
The state has already approved Kingsley to open a dispensary within the Rogers Park Township, which includes Rogers Park and portions of West Ridge.
Kingsley he plans to spend $75,000 on a security system for the 2,500-square-foot building, including cameras, separate and secured entrances and exits and key fobs to get into the store.
Moore said the camera views would capture "every inch" of the building and parking lot.
The cameras would be hooked up to a live feed monitored by state police, Moore said.
In addition, he said he planned to hire off-duty deputies from the Cook County Sheriff's Department to keep the facility safe.
A "high-grade security vault" would hold the store's inventory and cash, with cash being picked up "on at least a daily basis" in an armored car from a gated employees-only area, Moore said.
In early August, 25-year-old Cortez Tate was fatally shot inside another corner store on the block, but Kingsley said the added security presence and the fact the space will no longer be a vacant building will deter crime in the area.
"When a dispensary goes in, crime goes down," Kingsley said. "It's been a major deterrent to the bad guy. Added security scares away the bad guys."
Last April, Kingsley presented renderings of his plans for a location on Western Avenue near Warren Park, though by September he was denied a special-use permit by the zoning board after its members deadlocked on a vote.
Kingsley said he than began looking elsewhere in the Rogers Park Township area to open his shop and said the state, who had given him their permission to open the dispensary, allowed him extra time.
In February he found the spot at 1930 W. Chase Ave., though several day-care licenses listed addresses within 1,000 feet of the building. By law, dispensaries must be further away than that from schools and licensed day-care providers.
Moore and Kingsley said it was discovered no actual day-care facilities were operating at those addresses, but had to wait for the state to remove them from its registry until Kingsley could apply for a dispensary license.
"I would not proceed any further with my zoning process, including holding a community meeting on his proposal, until the outstanding day-care license issues were resolved," Moore said in his email.
As of Monday, those licenses were removed, Kingsley said.
Though it was a risk to buy the building before being approved for the dispensary, it was one Kingsley said he was willing to take.
"Have I taken a risk? No question about it," Kingsley said. "But if you know my background, risks are OK."
It's an issue he said is deeply personal to him, as Kingsley himself is a medical cannabis patient.
Kingsley told DNAinfo in 2015 that he first became interested in the medical marijuana industry after kidney failure ended his career at the Chicago Board Options Exchange in 1995.
Since then he's received two kidney transplants, most recently from his son in 2007, who also suffered seizures (a condition known to be treated by medical marijuana) as a child.
Dialysis treatments over the years caused residual, intermittent pain in his feet — and pot helps, he said. He said he traveled to Colorado as much as possible for marijuana treatment.
He also said a head-on collision on Lower Wacker Drive left him with post traumatic stress disorder, another listed medicinal use for cannabis.
"I'm not a 35-year-old kid who might have used the drug in another way and saw he could make a killing on this, I'm a 63-year-old gentleman who's had numerous maladies, and I'm having my opportunity to do something unbelievably good," Kingsley said. "That's from my heart, that's exactly how I feel there."
Illinois currently has 45 operating medical marijuana dispensaries, including five in Chicago (the closest being in Andersonville).
Only people with prescriptions are allowed to enter the building, and none of the product can be consumed on the premises, including the parking lot.
Kingsley said he's "very excited" at the prospect of bringing medical cannabis to Rogers Park.
"It's all an opportunity to give back to the community, and that's why I'm pushing so hard," Kingsley said. "Am I confident? Almost dying three times, having two transplants, I can only be confident — there's no other way to look at it."
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