Maywood Officials To Prepare For Looser Marijuana Laws, Examine Effects Of Dispensing Organizations In Village

cannibas Wednesday, July 23, 2014 || By Michael Romain 

With the state gradually loosening its restrictions on the production and use of cannabis for medical purposes, municipalities across Illinois are being forced to evaluate their ordinances and zoning codes to adapt to the new statutes.

Last Sunday, Gov. Quinn signed a law that will allow medical marijuana to be used by young and old epileptic patients. The law was only the latest in a series of legislative proposals–some of which have yet to be passed–that, in their totality, would significantly alter the state’s approach to both medical and casual marijuana usage.

In addition to the bill signed Sunday, three other bills presented to legislators this year “would either remove or reduce criminal penalties for those found in possession of up to 30 grams of cannabis,” according to the Marijuana Policy Project.

A statement on the organization summarized the three bills, stating that “HB 5708 would not only allow people to avoid arrest or jail time, but completely eliminate any criminal record — which can hurt employment, housing, public assistance, and educational opportunities. Two other bills, HB 4299 andHB 4091, would significantly lower penalties and allow people to avoid arrest or jail, but would still leave individuals with damaging criminal records. All three bills have been kept active and may be considered further later this year.”

For its part, Maywood has been forced reckoned with the implications of the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act, which was passed in August of last year. The Act is intended to make it easier for the production and use of medical cannabis by patients suffering from a variety of diseases, such as certain cancers, epilepsy and Alzheimer’s. As part of its intended goal, the Act preempts municipalities from prohibiting medical cannabis cultivation centers and dispensing organizations from locating within their borders, but it does give municipalities authority to “impose reasonable zoning regulations not in conflict with the Act.”

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The Act defines a medical cannabis cultivation center as a “facility authorizes by Illinois law and operated by an organization or business registered by the Department of Agriculture to perform necessary activities to provide only registered medical cannabis dispensing organizations with usable medical cannabis.” A dispensing organization is authorized by the state and operated by an entity registered by the Department of Financial and Professional Regulation to “acquire medical cannabis from a registered medical cannabis cultivation facility for the purpose of dispensing cannabis, paraphernalia, or related supplies and educational materials to registered qualifying patients.”

By law, cultivation centers can’t be located within 2,500 feet, and dispensing organizations can’t be located within 1,000 feet, of the property lines of “pre-existing public or private preschool or elementary or secondary school or day-care center, day-care home, group day-care home, part-day child-care facility, or an area zoned for residential use.”

Based on those zoning restrictions, cultivation centers are automatically ruled out of locating within the Village. However, dispensing organizations are not (see map). According to a fact-finding document drafted by the law firm of Klein, Thorpe & Jenkins, there are zoning districts within Maywood where dispensaries could potentially locate; however, there has been no serious discussion about the possibility. The document recommended that the Plan Commission “consider the mapped areas [detailing potential location sites], and any possible positive or negative impacts a cultivation center or dispensary may have on the immediately surrounding area.” VFP

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