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Plans to open Evanston’s first recreational marijuana dispensary advanced Wednesday with a favorable recommendation to the Zoning Board of Appeals from the city’s Design and Project Review Committee.

Alderman Don Wilson, 4th Ward, speculated at a ward meeting Tuesday night that with Chicago officials limiting the launch of recreational cannabis sales Jan. 1  to Chicago’s 11 existing medical marijuana dispensaries, there could be “lines around the block” at the one dispensary in Evanston, at 1804 Maple Ave., in the city’s Maple Avenue garage.

But while the slowed expansion in Chicago makes Evanston officials more confident that predictions of local tax revenue from pot sales are realistic to conservative, Wilson stressed that the city doesn’t actually want to have any lines around the block.

And much of the discussion at Wednesday afternoon’s DAPR meeting focused on how MedMen, the chain of cannabis shops that’s acquiring Pharmacannis, the current operator of Evanston’s medical marijuana dispensary, plans to deal with the potential demand.

An attorney for MedMen said the firm has experience with scaling from medical to adult use from other states and if demand is high, they’ll make accommodations to handle it.

“We don’t want extensive queuing, especially in January,” the attorney said.

Plans submitted to the city call for having “trained employees and uniformed contract security officers” patrol the interior and exterior of the building.

The plans call for having 10 to 15 cash regsiters in the store and anticipate an average customer transaction time of five minutes, once customers have identified what they want.

The plans call for the dispensary to expand into the storefront space now occupied by Enterprise Rent-a-car, with Enterprise moving to a different location in the garage.

The plans call for an extensive access control and video surveillance system for the dispensary.

The hours of operation for the dispensary will be limited to 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily.

The Zoning Board of Appeals hearing on the dispensary proposal is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 19.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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