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“The last thing in the world patients need is to have to drive to some warehouse behind Midway Airport every other week,” said Daniel Reid of the Good Intentions clinic.

Aldermen consider where to grow, sell medical marijuana in Chicago

by Liz Bibb
Jan 23, 2014

Ald. Edward Burke (14th) is having control issues over the city's role in helping patients gain access to medical marijuana.

Aldermen on the Zoning Committee, Thursday, tried to figure where to put medical marijuana growing and selling facilities within city limits to comply with a recently passed state law. The law, which went into effect Jan. 1, allows the sale and use of medical marijuana by qualified patients who suffer from one or more of 35 conditions.

Burke said he is “outraged” at the limited control Chicago has over regulating dispensaries and growing centers. A vast majority of the state’s 60 allotted dispensaries could be placed in Chicago “without an iota of input from the elected officials of the city of Chicago,” he said.

The state law also allows the creation of 60 dispensaries and 22 centers where the plant can be grown.
Burke presented a proposed ordinance to the committee to require these facilities to obtain a special-use permit from the city and confine them to manufacturing districts.

This restriction would require dispensaries and growers to go before the Zoning Board of Appeals before opening.

But Burke does want to make sure the city exercises the control it does have over zoning permits for dispensaries and growing centers: “That’s about the only thing the honorable members of the General Assembly have left to the city council. The role of local government is, to put it mildly, limited to an extreme degree.”

The state law stipulates that a registered cultivation center may not be within 2,500 feet of a daycare center or a school, or be in a residential area. In addition, dispensaries may not be within 1,000 feet of these areas and also cannot be in residential areas.

Patricia Scudiero, the city's zoning administrator, said placing dispensaries and growing centers in manufacturing zones is logical because daycares cannot be located in these zones, and the zones are not authorized for residential use, either.

Ali Nagib, of the Illinois chapter of the National Organization to Reform Marijuana Laws, said placement of dispensaries in manufacturing zones creates a burden for patients.

“Patients are not going to want to travel to some manufacturing district full of trucks and scary-looking buildings,” Nagib said.

The zoning committee decided to take more time to consider the matter and did not vote on the ordinance Thursday.

Daniel Reid deals with these issues on a day-to-day basis and said the city council is headed in the wrong direction.

Spokesman for the Good Intentions clinic that opened in August, Reid said he hopes to help qualifying patients get doctors' permission for medical marijuana.

If the facilities are placed in manufacturing districts, patients will suffer: “The last thing in the world patients need is to have to drive to some warehouse behind Midway Airport every other week.”