Wheaton joins other communities in zoning medical marijuana dispensaries in manufacturing and industrial zones

Similar to Naperville, Wheaton wants to restrict medical dispensaries to manufacturing and industrial zones, near the city’s downtown:

City council members Monday gave their preliminary approval of zoning changes that would limit any dispensing operations to the industrial and manufacturing zones immediately south and west of the city’s downtown…

“[State law] pretty much excludes all property in Wheaton from having a cultivation center. The dispensing organizations have slightly different restrictions,” said James Kozik, director of planning and economic development. “It seems to be the trend that the locations where a community is permitting them seems to be in the manufacturing or industrial area.”

The state also prohibits businesses that will dispense medical marijuana from being within 1,000 feet of the property line of a school or day care, from opening in any type of residence or residential area, and from referring patients to a physician.

Under the state statute, Kozik said, without city action, dispensing operations could also be located in the Danada shopping area, East Roosevelt Road, portions of the Wheaton College campus and portions of the DuPage County Complex along County Farm Road.

City Manager Don Rose said he believes law enforcement officials would prefer to have dispensing facilities limited to the manufacturing district. Most council members agreed.

It will be interesting to watch how this plays out in Wheaton, given the community’s conservative political and religious character, as well as in other suburban communities.

NIMBY reactions in Chicago suburbs to possible marijuana dispensaries

With a medical marijuana bill in the works in Illinois, some Chicago suburbs are trying to prepare for marijuana dispensaries:

In anticipation of the law, the Lake County Municipal League plans a seminar July 18 addressing how to handle the issue. Several suburbs, including Barrington, Buffalo Grove, Carpentersville, Deerfield, Highland Park and Libertyville, have taken preliminary steps to determine where marijuana facilities could locate…

Fox Lake took steps to limit marijuana facilities to its manufacturing areas, away from the downtown and residential areas.

“No one on the board is opposed to medical marijuana,” Mayor Donny Schmit said. “Everybody knows someone who’s had cancer or suffered eye disease. We just wanted an area where (suspicious) traffic would be noticed.”…

The proposed Illinois law would limit access to medical marijuana to patients 18 and older. Marijuana facilities would have to be at least 1,000 feet from schools, and smoking marijuana would be forbidden in public places and motor vehicles…

“Do you want your home next to a marijuana dispensary?” he said. “I wouldn’t. At least our communities would be protected to the fullest extent we can.”

It will be fascinating to see how more suburbs respond to this. Even if the facilities are legal, many residents, particularly in places with higher property values, will not want to live near such facilities and communities will not to have them prominently featured in their business and civic areas. At the same time, this is a different issue than many NIMBY concerns like landfills or prisons or manufacturing facilities – the medical marijuana law is intended to help sick people. Does having a medical marijuana dispensary nearby lower property values? Is it an eyesore on the level with tattoo parlors?

Might the tide turn if there was some local sales tax money that could be collected from each facility?