Ald. Mary O’Connor (41st) vowed to oppose a medical marijuana clinic seeking to open near the Superdawg Drive-In located on Chicago’s Northwest Side even though one of the owners of the popular Chicago hot dog joint is open to the idea.
The Union Group of Illinois is looking to open the stand on a vacant lot located at 6428 N. Milwaukee Ave., just a couple blocks from Superdawg.
Scott Berman, co-owner of Superdawg, supports the plan because he said the lot is currently a blight on the neighborhood.
“All business is good. Vacancy is not good because it causes deterioration in the neighborhood,” Berman said.
Berman added that empty lots and vacant building does not look good for the neighborhood and depresses the local economy.
“Whether it is a clothing store, a hot dog stand like us or a medical marijuana dispensary, all business is good to have,” he said.
Berman is not worried about the type of business opening, as long as it doesn’t create a nuisance or disrupt surrounding businesses. While he understands the concern that a pungent marijuana smell could accompany the marijuana clinic, other than that he doesn’t see any problems and said the clinic could potentially boost their hotdog sales, for obvious reasons.
“All businesses should be free [to exist] as long as they cause no harm to nearby businesses like excessive noise or odors,” Berman said.
But O’Connor’s spokesperson, Jason Hernandez, said O’Connor has a different perspective.
Hernandez said O’Connor opposes the clinic because it is too close to parks and residential areas. While O’Connor support medical marijuana generally, she against this clinic to protect “the public safety of the residents.”
Hernandez said obtaining the marijuana license will be an uphill battle, since residents in the ward have in the past opposed the granting of liquor licenses to area businesses.
“The community opposition measures were fairly substantial [toward the licenses],” Hernandez said.
Hernandez said that fear of the unknown will play a role in the license process, which state-wide has just begun in the last six months.
“There are lots of unknowns with these businesses,” he said. “The cash flow is not certain.”
Hernandez said that in the future, when regulations are more predictable and the area is more suitable, O’Connor would definitely support medical marijuana dispensaries.
Steve Hampton, a self-employed contractor from Glenville, knows the neighborhood well and said the idea of medical marijuana has been long opposed and while talks of a dispensary in the area are interesting, it will be shut down right away.
“It is not popular for politicians to do it yet,” he said.
Hampton said the clinic could potentially help businesses in the area if it becomes known by people and establishes a name for itself, as Superdawg has done over the years.
“It might become a landmark. Something that people know is there,” he said.