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Twin cities adapt to legalization of medical marijuana in Illinois

(MCT Campus Photo) U.S. map shows the 20 states where medical marijuana laws take place.

(MCT Campus Photo)
U.S. map shows the 20 states where medical marijuana laws take place.

MCT Campus Photo RFID tags mark which plants are for retail or medical use. Bloomington-Normal will be changing some of its zoning codes to comply with the legalization.

MCT Campus Photo
RFID tags mark which plants are for retail or medical use. Bloomington-Normal will be changing some of its zoning codes to comply with the legalization. 

With medical marijuana now legal in Illinois, Bloomington is trying to figure out their zoning rules for medical marijuana cultivation centers and dispensaries.

Interim PACE and Community Development Director Frank Koehler said the city must follow the state’s rules as Bloomington considers its zoning codes.

Bloomington is changing its Comprehensive Plan which would change some zoning code.

An amendment to the zoning ordinance, subject to state requirements, will go to the planning commission public hearing on June 25.

The state law from 2013 has many regulations for dispensing facilities. They can be no closer than 1000 feet to a property line of a school or day care center.

For the cultivation centers, where the marijuana is grown, the rules are even more strict. The centers must be at least 2,500 feet from any school, day care center, part child day care facility or any residential building.

The cultivation centers are only allowed for medical use.

“The rules are very stringent,” Koehler said.

It must be a closed building with many cameras inside, he added.

The state law allows one cultivation facility per police district. Bloomington-Normal is in District Six, which includes DeWitt, Livingston and McLean counties.

Project Manager for the Bloomington-Normal Economic Development Council, Timothy Bill, said that there is talk of Bloomington-Normal getting both dispensaries a cultivation center.

“At least 10 different companies have inquired about specific locations for dispensaries and cultivation centers,” Bill said.

The cultivation center would most likely be on the outskirts of the town and the dispensaries would be in town where it is more populated.

Bill said that medical marijuana would bring additional jobs to the twin cities and help stimulate the economy.

There would also be additional tax revenue from the sales, and from the new buildings.

Bill said he is not concerned with crime or fraud that may result from having marijuana as a commercial product.

“The businesses that have contacted us are very professional. Some are from Colorado, and have been doing it for awhile,” he said.

Both the cultivation centers and dispensaries will be highly regulated and local authorities will be on watch, he added.

Koehler said there can be 22 cultivation centers statewide and 60 dispensing facilities.

Local farmers are not allowed to grow marijuana as one of their crops, Koehler said.

To open a cultivation center people must pay a non-refundable application fee of $25,000.

“Applicants are going to have to go through a stringent process to be approved by the state,” Koehler said.

If they are approved, the applicant must pay an additional $200,000 to receive a license.

Similarly, patients cannot get their medical marijuana at their regular pharmacy, Koehler said.

The only place to buy the marijuana is at the dispensaries, which have similar regulations.

In order to become a medical marijuana patient, you must be at least 18 years old, a resident of Illinois and be diagnosed with one of 40 chronic diseases and conditions.

Some conditions include cancer, glaucoma, HIV, AIDS, hepatitis C, Alzheimer’s disease and rheumatoid arthritis.

Patients may buy up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana every two weeks.

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