Evanston’s first marijuana dispensary will look nondescript to pedestrians and traffic passing by on the street, carrying no signage or graphics to advertise the product being dispensed inside.
The commercial space located inside the city’s Maple Avenue parking garage will have special security features inside its doors, including five or six doors leading from the vestibule to more secure areas, a half-dozen cameras and a secure vault to hold the prepackaged cannabis.
Architect Mark Filoramo, representing Pharmacann LLC which will operate the dispensary, answered questions about the layout in an appearance before the city’s Design and Project Review (DAPR) Committee on Wednesday.
The committee voted to recommend in favor of the firm’s preliminary and final designs for the dispensary, to occupy city-owned commercial space at 1804 Maple Ave.
During the review by the committee, which is comprised of represenatives of various city departments, Filoramo was asked about the absence of signage.
Filoramo confirmed that was the case. The office “is not walk-up retail,” he emphasized.The users of the product “have been approved by the state and hold a card.”
Inside, the space “is set up more like a dentist or doctor’s office,” he told the committee.
Filoramo was unable to provide the committee with a timetable of when the dispensary will be open. City officials had initially projected this fall.
He indicated a lot will depend on when the product is ready at the cultivation center, which is where the product is grown, and is a separate facility from the dispensary.
Under the state program, license holders were required “to have seeds in the ground” six months after they received approval, which took place in February, Filoramo said.
The product grows within 30 to 60 days, and then has to be dried and processed. Right now, “cultivation facilities are being built and this (the dispensary) can’t open without the product,” Filoramo said afterward.
He told the committee that Pharmacann wants to proceed as fast as possible on the Evanston center, hoping to use it as training center for the company, which holds licenses in other jurisdictions.
On the revenue side, Evanston officials have estimated that a tax of 6 percent on the sale of medical marijuana at the dispensary will net the city approximately $141,000 a year.
In addition, Evanston City Council members approved an agreement in April with Pharmacann for lease of the city-owned space, starting May 2 and running until December 31, 2017, which coincides with the termination of the state pilot program.
Should the state extend the pilot program, Pharmarcann would then have two additional three-year options under the agreement.
Evanston officials project that 25 patients a day will use the dispensary. They project total annual sales at roughly $2.35 million.
Then Gov. Patrick Quinn signed into law in August 2013 the Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act.
The statute allowed for the establishment of medical dispensaries and cultivation centers for the prescribing of cannabis to patients who qualify.
The program permits the dispensing of 2.5 ounces of marijuana every two weeks to patients suffering from certain illnesses or conditions.
The Evanston facility will have a single public entrance, said Filoramo, responding to questions from the committee on Wednesday.
Patients, after providing identification, will wait in a waiting area.
The layout includes a manager’s office, preparation room and vault.
The product is prepackaged at the cultivation center. Sales are on a cash basis only, he told the committee.
He said the company is trying to work with the state so that something like a LINK card could be used, but “right now, it’s a cash business,” he said.