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City proposes rigid ground rules for medical marijuana

The Illinois Department Financial Professional Regulati(IDFPR) filed complaint against Chicago doctor for allegedly misleading potential patients inthinking they could get

The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) filed a complaint against a Chicago doctor for allegedly misleading potential patients into thinking they could get pre-approval of medical marijuana. | Sun-Times files

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Updated: November 26, 2013 11:25PM

Medical marijuana dispensaries and growing centers would be confined to Chicago’s planned manufacturing districts and would be required to secure both special-use permits and a minimum number of parking spaces under legislation proposed Tuesday.

With Illinois poised to become the 20th U.S. state to allow medical use of marijuana on Jan. 1, the Department of Planning and Development is joining forces with Ald. Edward Burke (14th) to lay rigid ground rules in Chicago.

“It is our intention by enacting these zoning amendments that we will ensure a transparent process and full public participation,” Burke was quoted as saying in a press release.

“As the city of Chicago prepares to comply with the landmark change in state law which will allow the sale of medical marijuana to begin across Illinois next year, it is both timely and necessary to lay down a blueprint which spells out exactly how this new law will affect Chicagoans,” Burke said.

If the full City Council approves, Chicago’s zoning code would be amended to require marijuana dispensaries and “cultivation centers” to be located in manufacturing districts, known as “PMDs,” with a minimum number of parking spaces, depending on the size of the facility.

They would also be required to obtain special-use permits from the city’s Zoning Board of Appeals. That would allow area residents to object. Chicago, which already tickets people caught using small amounts of marijuana, would also decriminalize medical marijuana under the plan.

The amendments introduced at Tuesday’s City Council meeting would be in addition to a state law, billed as the nation’s toughest.

It caps the number of growing centers at 22 — one for each State Police district — and prohibits them from opening within 2,500 feet of a school, day care center or residential area.

The state law caps the number of dispensaries at 60 and bars them from opening in a private home, residential area or within 1,000 feet of a school or day care center.

On Aug. 1, Gov. Pat Quinn signed a medical marijuana bill that takes effect Jan. 1.

It establishes a four-year pilot program that will allow patients suffering from one of 42 named ailments or diseases, including cancer, HIV/AIDS and ALS, to obtain the drug with a doctor’s prescription.

They would be allowed to purchase and possess 2.5 ounces of marijuana during a two-week period.

Users, growers and sellers would have to undergo fingerprinting and criminal background checks. Employers and landlords could bar medicinal marijuana use in their workplaces and buildings.

And users would have to undergo field sobriety tests if police suspect they are driving under the influence of medical cannabis and could lose their driving privileges and privileges to use pot for their illnesses.


Twitter: @fspielman

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