By Steve Metsch [email protected] September 2, 2014 10:50PM
A medical marijuana dispensary has been proposed for this Worth storefront, 11425 Harlem Ave., by a Chicago-based company. The village board will discuss the plan Friday night and consider granting a special use zoning permit to allow it to operate. | Steve Metsch/Sun-Times Media
Updated: September 2, 2014 10:59PM
Worth soon may be home to a medical marijuana distribution center.
The village board’s real estate development committee will discuss the proposal at a public meeting at 7 p.m. Friday at village hall. That immediately will be followed by a special meeting of the full board, which is expected to vote on establishing regulations for the center and consider a request for a special use zoning permit for its operation.
Mayor Mary Werner said the request for the dispensary “does have my blessing.”
Steve Weisman, co-owner of the Windy City Cannabis Club, based in Chicago and formed to try to operate some medical pot centers in Illinois, said the club hopes to open the distribution center in a vacant section of a building, 11425 Harlem Ave. Enterprise Car Sales is in the south and east sides of the building.
Besides tax revenue, the center would provide 16 full-time jobs, paying $15 to $25 per hour with health benefits, Weisman said. It likely would be open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily, he said.
Resident Bill Banks, of the 7100 block of 114th Place, plans to attend Friday’s meeting because he opposes the plan. Banks, 67, has lived in his home, a stone’s throw from the proposed dispensary, for 28 years.
“I don’t want it here because every lowlife in the world will be coming over here,” he said. “They can have all the (restrictions) they want, but once they start selling it, there will be a way (for anyone) to get it. They (users) will be floating around (the neighborhood).”
Weisman understands such concern, saying it’s sometimes hard to convince people of the medical benefits of marijuana when it remains illegal for recreational use in most states and in the eyes of the federal government. But he said there will be security cameras on site, no marijuana will be used on the premises, and nobody without a prescription will be served.
“There’d be no recreational use, no smoking allowed there, period. This is like having a pharmacy,” Weisman said.
The center would serve residents of Worth, Stickney and Calumet townships who have prescriptions from their doctors for medical pot, he said.
Illinois will begin accepting applications for medical marijuana dispensaries on Monday. There will be 60 throughout the state, with each one serving residents of three townships.
At first, Werner wasn’t sure about a dispensary in Worth, but after doing some research she supports the idea.
“It’s amazing how many children in the United States are being treated with medicinal marijuana for seizure disorders,” the mayor said. “I’ve read interviews on the Internet with parents whose children have been helped. If it’s a miracle cure for someone, we don’t want to stand in the way of that.
“I know some people are concerned, but the state has some very strict guidelines for security. (Operators) have to have a bank vault in the building where the drug will be maintained, they have to contract with an armored car service to deliver the drug from the grower to the dispensary. They have strict guidelines for security cameras inside and outside. It should be a very good location that could bring more businesses to the village.”
Weisman said the Windy City Cannabis Club “wants to be a good member of the community” and plans to donate money to nonprofit organizations in Worth.
“Because there’s only one center for every three townships, this will draw traffic to Worth that could help local restaurants, salons and other businesses nearby,” he said. “… There’s tax revenue and jobs. If the village doesn’t support this, it will be in Chicago Ridge or some other area nearby and they’ll get the tax revenue.”
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