Pubdate: Fri, 29 Nov 2013
Source: Chicago Tribune (IL)
Copyright: 2013 Chicago Tribune Company
Author: Dan Waters


With a state medical marijuana law set to go into effect at the 
beginning of the year, Chicago-area communities are left trying to 
figure out what that will mean for them.

Facing the prospect of a legal marijuana trade - something that 
seemed unlikely a few years ago - a number of suburbs, as well as 
Chicago, are working to decide how many related businesses will be 
allowed under their zoning codes and other local ordinances.

"You can't restrict it completely from your town," said Don Hansen, 
deputy police chief in Mundelein. "You have to make it available to 
some degree."

The four-year pilot program will allow doctors to prescribe up to 2.5 
ounces of pot every two weeks to patients who have a debilitating 
medical condition. The law allows for up to 60 dispensaries and 22 
cultivation centers statewide.

Since Gov. Pat Quinn signed the law in August, many suburban leaders 
have worked to put guidelines and restrictions on their books. A plan 
to limit where dispensaries and growers can operate in Chicago was 
introduced at a City Council meeting this week.

"There is a level of uncertainty," Sam Hubbard, Lake Zurich's village 
planner, said of the new law. "I don't know that we're worried, but 
it's an important issue thatwe have to plan for."

Lake County towns like Mundelein and Lake Zurich have passed the 
issue along to their planning commissions, whose members plan to 
research the lawand look at how states like California and Colorado 
have handled medical pot.

Other communities are waiting until a Lake County medical marijuana 
task force provides a set of regional recommendations.

In Wauconda, officials are considering a 120-day moratorium on 
issuing permits for medical marijuana businesses, while waiting for 
the county guidelines.

Mayor Frank Bart said he hopes the county recommendations will serve 
as a resource to limit the amount of time village staff has to spend 
on drafting zoning regulations.

The county invited local municipalities to participate in the task 
force, said Hansen, who has been active in drafting the recommended 
regulations at the county level.

He said about 25 local officials - including police, village 
administrators and planning and zoning officials - have attended task 
force meetings.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom