CITY HALL — Eleven days after being burglarized, Logan Square weed dispensary MOCA Modern Cannabis is suspending their plan to expand the pot shop.
Late last year, the dispensary at 2847 W. Fullerton Ave. sought approval from the Zoning Board of Appeals to expand its Logan Square storefront by 1,300 square feet as recreational weed sales began. At the December meeting of the board, MOCA’s request was delayed by a month because the company had failed to file economic disclosure forms for every owner.
On Friday, owners withdrew their application.
Withdrawing their application now allows the company to reapply in the future. If they had their request denied on Friday, owners would have been prevented from reapplying for a year.
The dispensary’s owners made the decision to withdraw their expansion application prior to the burglary, MOCA owner Danny Marks said. He declined to answer questions about the break in.
“We have a better perspective post-Jan. 1 on customer flow than when we first proposed this plan last summer. For now, we feel that we have great system in place with two separate adjacent spaces instead of having one larger space,” Marks said. “We we will possibly consider an expansion in the future if needed but for now have no plans to do so.”
The Zoning Board of Appeals, which must issue special-use permits to any new dispensary opening in Chicago, has grilled dispensary owners on their security plans in the past. State law has strict security guidelines for dispensaries, including storing “all cannabis and currency in a secure locked safe or vault and in a manner as to prevent diversion, theft or loss,” when the store is closed.
Sam Toia, president of the Illinois Restaurant Association and a Zoning Board of Appeals member, said retail theft occurs in every industry. He conceded that dispensaries may receive extra attention from the Zoning Board of Appeals because its a new industry and they hold a lot of cash.
“This is a new industry so we want to make sure they have security in place and you know, go deep on what their security plans are going forward,” Toia said. “…It’s predominantly a cash business, so when you have cash you need to have very strong security in place.”
The dispensary was burglarized Jan. 6, less than a week after recreational sales began. The burglars made off with more than $100,000 in cash, according to police. No cannabis was stolen.
Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said the robbery appeared to be an inside job.
“We do not believe this was a random street burglary. I can’t go into specifics, but what we can share is that this was not a random incident and we are looking very closely with the store management on this and reviewing every piece of evidence we have,” Guglielmi said Friday.
The dispensary used the arcade bar Emporium Logan Square, which they also own, as an overflow holding area when recreational sales began on Jan. 1.
Like other dispensaries across Chicago, MOCA ran out of recreational weed in the first week of sales and has since asked customers to check their social media feeds to learn whether they would be open to recreational customers on any given day.
Last Saturday, they announced that they had a new waiting room for recreational customers next door to their entrance on 2369 N. Milwaukee Ave. they have a second entrance exclusively for medical patients on 2847 W. Fullerton Ave.
At the December meeting, Danny Marks told the ZBA that if their expansion plans move forward medical patients would be able to enter either entrance while recreational patrons would be restricted to the Milwaukee Avenue entrance.
It is unclear if the new waiting area was a part of the 1,300 square feet expansion plans or a separate area. The Twitter post announcing the waiting area described it as a “pop-up”.
Under state law, existing medical dispensaries also have the right to open a second recreational dispensary. In November, at the Zoning Board of Appeals’ lottery MoCa Modern Cannabis was selected third and chose to locate their second location in the lucrative Central District, scrapping previous plans to open a dispensary at the former Barry’s Drugs in Wicker Park.
MOCA hopes to open a dispensary at 216 West Ohio St. in River North. They will hold a community meeting at the same location on Wednesday, Jan. 29.
Two other weed companies, Greenhouse Group and Cresco Labs, also hope to open a dispensary nearby. State and local zoning laws prohibit dispensaries from being located within 1,500 feet of each other, so only one of the dispensaries will be able to open.
Cresco will hold a community meeting at Maggiano’s Little Italy at 516 N. Clark St at 6 P.M. on Tuesday, Jan. 28. Greenhouse Group has yet to schedule a meeting.
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