Chicago Wants to Allow Weed Smoking at Hookah Bars and Cigar Lounges
The city ordinance would allow any Chicago business that makes 80% of its profit from tobacco sales to welcome on-site cannabis consumption.
Published on December 20, 2019

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A new city ordinance proposal from Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot is aiming to transform the city’s cigar lounges, hookah bars, and other nicotine hotspots into cannabis consumption clubs.

According to the Chicago Tribune, Mayor Lightfoot announced the new ordinance at a City Council meeting on Wednesday. If passed, the city rule change would allow for any Chicago business that makes 80% of their money through tobacco and tobacco-related sales to welcome legal marijuana use for adults 21 and older. The businesses would only allow BYO-weed and would also forbid alcohol. 

In her announcement, Mayor Lightfoot said that the proposed law would allow for more Chicago residents to cash in on Illinois’ impending cannabis legalization plan, including cigar and smoke shop owners who might otherwise be left out of the new industry.

“As the city prepares for legalization of adult-use cannabis next month, we are working alongside the state and taking every effort to stand this industry up in a way that is safe, responsible, and offers the maximum level of opportunity for Chicago’s residents and businesses,” Lightfoot said in a statement. “With this legislation, more entrepreneurs will be eligible to participate in the cannabis economy, including those who have borne the brunt of the War on Drugs, and Chicago’s residents will have the opportunity to consume cannabis in a safe location.”

Chicago will welcome legal weed sales when Illinois flips the prohibition switch off on January 1st. But as the laws are currently written, residents must consume their legal bud in the comfort of their own home, providing of course that they don’t live in public housing or under a strict landlord. Cannabis use will continue to be outlawed in all of Illinois’ outdoor public spaces, including sidewalks and parks.

In other legal weed states, social consumption lounges have been slow to catch on. Recently, though, public spaces that allow weed use have begun to emerge in cities like Las Vegas, Denver, Los Angeles, and other urban pot hotspots. 

Outside of the social use ordinance, Mayor Lightfoot has also announced intentions to create a city-run cannabis cooperative that would further empower Chicago’s most persecuted communities to prosper from legal weed. Both of Lightfoot’s legal weed proposals will need City Council approval before they are ratified as law.

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Zach Harris
Zach Harris is a writer based in Philadelphia whose work has appeared on Noisey, First We Feast, and Jenkem Magazine. You can find him on Twitter @10000youtubes complaining about NBA referees.
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