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Village of Carol Stream considers possible action in response to medical marijuana

CAROL STREAM – With Illinois’ new medical marijuana law in effect, Carol Stream is considering ways to limit cultivation and dispensing facilities to certain areas of the village.

At a meeting Jan. 6 between the village board and the plan commission, village staff conducted a workshop to educate officials about the four-year pilot program and potential changes to the zoning code regarding medical marijuana cultivation centers and dispensaries, Village Manager Joseph Breinig said.

The law allows for a total of 22 cultivation centers – one per state police district – and up to 60 dispensaries statewide. Setback restrictions prohibit cultivation centers from opening within 2,500 feet of a school, childcare facility or residential area. Dispensaries are prohibited from opening within 1,000 feet of a school or childcare facility and are not allowed in residential areas.

Although the law officially took effect at the start of the new year, state rules and regulations governing cultivation and access to medical marijuana have not yet been determined.

“It probably would be late 2014 before the rules are in place, which would then mean, realistically, there is no way the cannabis would be grown at a cultivation center until probably 2015,” Breinig said. “And the dispensing organizations have nothing to dispense until then.”

Mayor Frank Saverino said the village plans to follow all setback restrictions included in the law, but nothing beyond that at this time.

Breinig said the village has no plans to implement zoning changes until state regulations have been finalized.

Nearby municipalities, including Bartlett, Downers Grove and Naperville, have either discussed or approved zoning rules related to medical marijuana facilities.

It’s something “every community has to deal with at some level,” Breinig said.

Without knowing what state regulations will dictate, Breinig said staff believe the best site for potential cultivation centers would be the village’s industrial district.

There is only a very small area in Carol Stream’s industrial park, which abuts Glendale Heights to the east, where such a center could conceivably open, he said.

On the other hand, there “would be many more locations” where a dispensing facility could open, largely because, although such a facility cannot be located within a residential area, it can abut one, Breinig said.

At present, Breinig said staff believe dispensing operations should be limited to the village’s office research and institutional building district, which includes medical offices and clinics.

Staff also proposed both cultivation centers and dispensaries be defined in the zoning code specifically, Breinig said.

Operation of these facilities could raise security issues, impact traffic and effect the community in other ways, he said.

“Like any zoning use, you want to look at if it’s permitted, special use or prohibited,” Breinig said.

Though it’s unlikely either facility could be prohibited, defining both operations as special uses would be the best course of action from the village’s perspective, he said. 

But until state regulations are firmly defined, Breinig said village staff plan to hold off on issuing any medical marijuana related recommendation.  

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