When Separate Equals Hungry

A 2-part feature exploring food insecurity.

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My how times have changed.

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A champion advocate. A brilliant businesswoman. A force of change. Edie Moore founder of Chicago NORML shares the difference between opening a dispensary in 2015 and 2023 are like night and day. Moore is in the process of opening three locations all in Cook County (BLS Region 5) and one dispensary for certain to be located in the city of Chicago. When asked about the challenges of securing a retail location Moore responded, “I’ve done this before. I did this in 2015 at the beginning of cannabis. I'm very familiar with what will pass zoning.”

Moore is well aware of the challenges retail operators face with state legislation requirements to be in compliance. She shares her process for site selection beginning with the community demographics. “Is it a NIMBY community, full of progressive people? Is there parking? How close is it to an existing dispensary? Is it close to a church?” 

While churches don’t require a particular distance, the proximity to churches may become a point of tension further down the line. “While churches aren’t in the law it may matter to those people who attend that church,” shared Moore. 

When asked about if communities sought out dispensaries for their community Moore lifted up that suburbs of Cook County are excited about tax dollars but they too have ways of pigeon holing cannabis operators to retail spaces unfit for the new budding business.

“In the suburbs they want the tax dollars but they will say things like, you can be over there in that corner, or in that corner over there or maybe  over in that corner. I’ve had that conversation at least three times in three different municipalities. When I ask about being in an ideal location for my company it is the existing businesses that don’t want cannabis close to them,” said Moore.


Edie reflects on her first attempt to open a medical dispensary on the south side of Chicago. The then Eighth Ward Accountability Coalition hosted an event called “We Don’t Want It” to reject medical marijuana at 1111 E. 87th street. The community Facebook event page stated residents of the 8th ward were invited to vote to oppose the opening of that business. “It blew my mind how hard people were pushing back in 2015 on someone who looked like them,” said Moore. Moore eventually ended up selling both her medical licenses and subsequently founded Chicago NORML. “That meeting shook me to my core,” said Moore. When asked how it feels different to move through the community process in  2023….she responded “fair….it feels fair.” Moore is thrilled about the support from the LBGTQ community, the alderperson and existing businesses and looks forward to opening the doors at 3340 N. Halsted in Boystown with her partners Art Johnston and José “Pepe” Peña.

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About Author:

Visionary Kai EL´ Zabar has worked as CEO of arts organizations and as editor, writer and multimedia consultant accumulating a significant number of years in experience as an executive, journalist,publisher, public relations, media training, marketing, internal and external communications. Kai currently continues her life’s work as Editor-in-Chief Of Chicago News Weekly where she has resumed her column, “E NOTES.” She is ecstatic to be in the position to grace Chicago and the world with a publication that articulates the Black voice.



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