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City Introduces Framework For Medical Marijuana In Chicago

By Chuck Sudo in News on Nov 27, 2013 4:30PM

Don't expect Chicago's streets to be teeming with Mystery Machines like this van once the law goes into effect Jan. 1. (Photo credit: Viewminder)

The Chicago City Council laid the zoning framework for medical marijuana dispensaries during its Tuesday meeting. If you thought they would make it easy to obtain some legal kush remember this is Chicago and you’ll be reminded that, while Illinois became the 20th state to legalize cannabis, not everyone approves.

The measure introduced at Tuesday’s meeting calls for medical marijuana dispensaries and cultivation centers to be allowed in planned manufacturing districts. The dispensaries and growing centers would also be required to secure special-use permits from the Zoning Board of Appeals and establish minimum spaces based on facility size. Chicago would also decriminalize medical marijuana under the ordinance; it already writes tickets to people caught with small amounts of pot.

The requirement to go before the Zoning Board of Appeals for special-use permits would allow area residents to object to having a dispensary in their vicinity. The recommendations proposed by the City Council Department of Planning and Development is in addition to the state law. Gov. Pat Quinn signed legislation allowing for medical marijuana in August. Billed as one of the toughest decriminalization laws in the nation, it calls for a four-year pilot program of 22 cultivation centers and 60 dispensaries where patients could buy marijuana after getting a prescription from a doctor with whom they have an existing relationship. The legislation sets a 2.5 ounce limit per patient per purchase.

The Reader’s Mick Dumke wrote in July scripts will only be allowed for patients with a “debilitating medical condition.” This means if you’re looking to ease the pain caused by fighting cancer, HIV/AIDS and other life-threatening conditions you’re fine. If you have a backache, you’re on your own.

Ald. Ed Burke (14th) said in a press release, “It is our intention by enacting these zoning amendments that we will ensure a transparent process and full public participation.”

“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 added.