As state officials enacted the rules that will govern the rollout of medical marijuana in Illinois, dozens of individual communities updated their zoning codes to determine where grow centers and pot stores can and cannot be located.
Now, with the state poised to begin accepting applications next month for businesses and patients, many suburbs have moved from the theoretical to the concrete as they consider specific proposals from people who want to grow or sell legal marijuana within town borders.
Communities including Naperville, Elgin, Glenview, Woodstock and LaGrange have all been eyed by would-be pot purveyors as potential sites for medical marijuana dispensaries, with varying degrees of success.
Late Wednesday, the Elgin City Council voted 8-1 to approve a special-use permit to allow a medical marijuana dispensary to operate along Crispin Drive in a commercial area — though the plan remains contingent on state approval. Councilman Terry Gavin, who voted in favor of the plan by Salveo Health and Wellness, predicted it could be as beneficial to the community as the local riverboat has been.
In Elgin and other suburbs, though, much of the concern has revolved around whether pot dispensaries should be allowed in traditional business districts or — as many local leaders and residents have said they prefer — tucked away in more discrete industrial, warehouse or office zones where they would be less visible, particularly to children.
The state law also restricts where dispensaries can operate: They must be at least 1,000 feet from a school or day care center and cannot be within a residential district. And only 60 dispensaries will be allowed statewide.
In Glenview, Plan Commission members Tuesday night discussed a proposal to open a dispensary in an industrial zone along Lake Avenue.
Glenview resident Julie Stone told local officials there that, if she gets state and local approval, she expects her GreenLeaf Organics business to serve up to 500 patients. It would be open six days a week but closed on Sunday, according to village documents.
Stone said there are people close to her who suffer from painful illnesses and could benefit from medical marijuana. Once the state law was passed, Stone said she decided to develop a business plan.
“I’m a firm believer in the benefits of the medical marijuana,” she said. “My mission with GreenLeaf Organics is to provide the highest quality of medical marijuana in a safe and professional environment.”
A local woman who said she has cancer told officials during the meeting that she has already begun using marijuana for pain relief. But she said she’d prefer to get it though legal, regulated channels where she can be more confident about what she’s taking.
Other residents expressed concerns about exposure to children. They noted that even though the proposed site is not less than 1,000 feet from a school or day care, it is near businesses that cater to children.
The Plan Commission did not take a vote and is expected to continue its consideration of the plan next month.
In Elgin, much of the opposition came from neighboring businesses that tried unsuccessfully Wednesday night to get more time to provide feedback on the plan. Their concerns revolved mainly around security, traffic and local zoning standards.
Chachkevitch is a Tribune reporter; Houde is a freelance reporter. Tribune reporter Robert McCoppin contributed.
Copyright © 2014, Chicago Tribune
This entry passed through the Full-Text RSS service — if this is your content and you’re reading it on someone else’s site, please read the FAQ at fivefilters.org/content-only/faq.php#publishers.