Medical marijuana dispensary sought for Six Corners district


A medical marijuana dispensary is being targeted for the Six Corners shopping district.

Few details of the project are available, but a representative of a company seeking a state license for the sale of medical marijuana has been contacting community groups to meet and discuss the possibility of a dispensary at Six Corners, Milwaukee and Cicero avenues and Irving Park Road. Under state guidelines, no more than 13 dispensaries are allowed in Chicago, and up to two can be in Jefferson Township.

Under the Illinois Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program, applications for dispensary and cultivation center licenses will be accepted from Sept. 8 to Sept. 22. The state departments of Public Health, Agriculture and Professional Regulation will hold a meeting on the law at 10 a.m. Wednesday, Aug. 20, in the Student Union Building at Northeastern Illinois University, 5500 N. Saint Louis Ave.

Dispensaries could start to open in the city in about 7 months. Applicants for dispensary licenses are required to submit an inventory control plan, and the state is requiring each dispensary to provide a live video feed to the Illinois State Police.

Under state law, those with a medical marijuana identification card will be allowed to buy up to 2 1/2 ounces of marijuana every two weeks. Cards will be available only to those who suffer from one of the 40 debilitating diseases that are specified under the law, and customer access to the dispensaries can be restricted to registered patients and their licensed care givers.

It was believed initially that the dispensaries would be allowed in industrial areas near the outskirts of the city, but state law requires that patients have easy access to the medicine. As a result, the City Council recently approved zoning rules that allow dispensaries to be located in neighborhood shopping districts in some cases.

The dispensaries cannot be in buildings with residential units or in buildings within 1,000 feet of a school or day care center, and applicants must seek a special use permit from the Zoning Board of Appeals, which will consider the effect that a dispensary would have on the immediate area. Special use requirements apply to uses, such as liquor stores and massage parlors, that typically generate community concerns, and the board holds a public hearing on each application for a special use.

Dispensaries are not allowed in all areas with business zoning, and many locations at Six Corners would require the property to be rezoned from B1 to B3 for a dispensary. B3 allows a greater variety of retail and restaurant uses than B1.

State law allows up to 60 dispensaries and 22 cultivation centers in Illinois. The number of cultivation centers in Cook County is limited to one, and it cannot operate within 2,500 feet of a school, a day care center or a residential area.

The medical conditions which are covered by the law include cancer, spinal cord injury, hepatitis C, glaucoma, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, lupus, AIDS and neurofibromatosis. Police officers, firefighters and commercial vehicle drivers are prohibited from using medical marijuana.