Could cannabis smoking lounges soon become a reality in Evanston? 

Could cannabis smoking lounges soon become a reality in Evanston?

The City Council is now considering introducing them as a way to help fund its reparations program, for which Evanston has gained national attention and is funded through cannabis sales tax dollars.

As of right now, there is only one dispensary in Evanston, and proponents of the cannabis lounge idea say allowing them will entice others to set up shop.

"We have one dispensary here in Evanston and we could, by right, have up to three," said Evanston Council Member Devon Reid.  "We're looking to make Evanston a more inviting place for dispensaries to locate."

Reid is spearheading the effort to allow cannabis consumption lounges, like the one that opened last spring in Mundelein.


"Adding two more dispensaries would bolster our funds by as much as $600,000 annually that we could commit to reparations," he said.

Reid also argues cannabis lounges would have less of a public health impact than bars.  

"We look at substances like alcohol, which is perfectly legal, and much higher harm to the individual and to the community than what has been demonstrated with cannabis," he said.

But the Evanston Health Advisory Council isn't on board.  

Its chairperson, Don Zeigler said, "there are other better ways of raising that money than promoting things that are going to be harmful to our community."

Specifically, Zeigler mentions the hazard of second-hand smoke and what he calls "the normalization of cannabis use."

"Wherever smoking is not permitted, we want that to continue to include cannabis smoke," Zeigler said.

Right now, this possibility is in the very early stages. Nothing official has been introduced and Reid says it will likely be five to six months before an ordinance can be formally approved.