Lake County towns prepare for possible medical marijuana dispensaries

Municipal leaders would not be able to prevent a dispensary from opening, but they could control where it opened through zoning rules.

The issue of marijuana for medical purposes elicits strong passions both pro and con.  When posting as a Local Voice at Lake Forest Patch on January 8, with subsequent postings at other Lake County Patch sites, "Scientific Evidence Against Smoking Pot: Teens and Brain Damage," even I was surprised at the vitriol hurled against me by those on the Left for daring to express what was described as an ill-informed and crazy notion.  It didn't matter that links were included to document the facts noted in my article.    http://lakeforest.patch.com/blog_posts/scientific-evidence-against-smoking-pot-teens-and-brain-damage

Realizing that most of the mainstream media here in Chicagoland leans to the left on social issues such as gay marriage, amnesty for illegal aliens, sanctify of life, and in pushing for the legalization of medical marijuana, I received a positive jolt of common sense when on January 16 a kindred spirit was found in a Daily Herald editorial, "Towns wise to prepare on medical marijuana." 

Although the bill to legalize medical marijuana never made it out of legislative committee in the Lame Duck sessions of the Illinois General Assembly, the issue still has life and will be revisited in the 98th General Assembly where Democrats now vote-proof majorities in both houses. 

The Daily Herald related how several communities in Lake County, possibly reading the tea leaves, rather than watching and waiting to see what might happen, they are looking at their zoning regulations as an assist in providing valuable tools in providing controls should the General Assembly decide to place a nonprofit cannabis dispensary in their community. Municipal leaders would not be able to prevent a dispensary from opening, but they could control where it opened through zoning rules.  Barrington, Buffalo Grove, Grayslake, Lake Forest, Lake Bluff, and Wauconda are among Lake County towns where officials have discussed proposed legislation in recent weeks. 

Although a medical marijuana proposal in the 98th General Assembly when introduced could vary in detail from House Bill 30 which lacked votes to pass during the 97th, following is the gist of House Bill 30:

House Bill 30 focused only on medical marijuana and included a three-year test program in which qualified patients would have been limited to 2.5 ounces of marijuana over a a14-day period.  The local focus of that bill was the creation of nonprofit cannabis dispensaries, which would have been allowed to grow, harvest and distribute marijuana.  They would have been limited to one per state Senate district.  http://www.dailyherald.com/article/20130116/discuss/701169965/print/ 

Expressed in the Daily Herald editorial was skepticism about the value of medical marijuana "until the board can evaluate the potential effects of a particular bill, but it's not hard to see the momentum for in in legislatures around the country nor to imagine some of the consequences if such a measure becomes law."  Also expressed was how local officials are well advised to do some advance planning to be ready should a medical marijuana bill pass in the 98th General Assembly.

Being curious to learn what my own home community of Lake Bluff and neighboring Lake Forest were doing to plan for the eventuality of being informed by Springfield that a marijuana dispensary was deemed a good fit for either community, scooped by the Daily Herald), I checked out my local Lake Forest LEAD website, "Leading Efforts Against Drugs" (www.leadingefforts.org), located on the second floor of the Gorton Community Center at  400 E. Illinois Road. Noted at LEAD's website was a second website, "Speakup!  Prevention Coalition" (www.speakupcoalition.org), a division of LEAD.  Andy Duran is the Executive Director of LEAD/SPEAKUP. 

It was on the "Speakup! Prevention Coalition" site that I found the resolution of the Village of Lake Bluff Board of Trustees approved at its Dec. 10, 2012 meeting which directs its Planning Commission and Zoning board of Appeals to consider amending the Village Zoning Code to include Distribution Facilities as a special use should the 'Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act" be signed into law by the Governor. 

Below the Lake Bluff resolution on the "Speakup! Prevention Coalition" site was one Lake Forest unanimously passed by the Lake Forest city Council on December 3rd, 2012, which instructed the Plan Commission to modify the zoning code to make medical marijuana dispensaries subject to approval of a  Special Use Permit before opening, with recommendations due to the City Council by the Plan commission early in 2013. A moratorium against the opening of any dispensaries is in place pending the conclusion of the deliberations.  www.speakupcoalition.org

On the same website is a letter originally written by Andy Duran, Executive Director of LEAD/SPEAKUP in Lake Forest, for a local and popular website covering LakeForest/Lake Bluff (Gazebo News Reader Forum) on October 31, 2012.  It is well worth reading in its entirety.  well worth reading.  In Duran's letter are enumerated research from other states and municipalities where medical marijuana has already been legalized.  www.speakupcoalition.org 

Conclusions include (All three points are explained in full in Duran's letter.): 

1.  A great increase in public safety issues.

2.  Decrease in property values.

3.  A great increase in youth access and use of marijuana.

Noted also are these three specific steps that can be taken by city councils to prohibit a "registered organization" from opening its doors in your town or community. 

1.  Exercise a "citizen ballot initiative."

2.  Establish a "zoning ordinance" stating that use is illegal as it conflicts with local ordinances, state statutes, and other drug laws.

3.  Draft a specific moratorium on allowing use in any zoned area until further research can be done.

Medical marijuana and marijuana legalization efforts send the wrong messages to youth that marijuana is not only safe but that it is a medicine.  Legislation and legislative efforts of this kind threaten public health and significantly undermine prevention efforts of community anti-drug coalitions throughout the state of Illinois. 

An excellent Toolkit for States Facing Medical Marijuana and Marijuana Legalization can be found at the following link:

As Lake Forest resides within two senate districts (Districts 29 and 30), if legislation were passed unchanged from House Bill 30 which failed during the 97th General Assembly, there could be two dispensaries and two cultivation areas in Lake Forest alone!

Now is the time to act before the 98th General Assembly brings forth a followup medical marijuana proposal which, if passed into law, would become the 18th state with an effective medical marijuana law.  States that have fully implemented medical marijuana programs are now experiencing "buyer's remorse." 

Be a voice in our own community. According to CADCA (Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America) there is a direct correlation between "medical" marijuana initiatives and decreases in perception of harm and social disapproval. States that have "medical" marijuana programs have among the lowest perceptions of harm among youth in this nation.  

Contact your State Senator and State Representative to urge them to vote "no" on future legislation to legalize marijuana for medical use. Also urge your city council to pass an ordinance prohibiting dispensaries prior to legislation passing at the state level.

Lastly, raise awareness in your community and among your friends about the pitfalls surrounding the legalization of medical marijuana and organize a letter writing campaign.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Steve S. January 28, 2013 at 08:01 PM
Why are you so paranoid? You are out of touch with reality and have no connection with anyone under 90 years old. The 1950's is calling and would like you to return where you are relevant. Once again I will ask, why is it that you see pot as being so dangerous, yet you are all for ownership of assault rifles?
Steve S. January 29, 2013 at 01:55 PM
This weeks local KKK meeting will be held at Nancy's house, there will be no alcohol served (as things were much better with prohibition), and assault weapons will be handed out to all. It will be a serve yourself function because all of her staff will be locked in the basement to avoid deportation. Nancy, your message is coming through loud and clear.
Cliff Hanger January 29, 2013 at 03:04 PM
Steve, Don't forget to mention their showings of "Reefer Madness" at 60 minutes past the hour...
sibuna January 31, 2013 at 06:05 PM
Oh get serious lady! If medical marijuana is the only relief those suffering medically can obtain, what business is it of yours and or any of us? You act as though Cheech and Chong will be standing in front of the marijuana place in your shallow presumptuious little town. The only reason, the SOLE reason the government tries to suppress marijuana is for the sheer moneymaking opportunities of doing so. Alcohol is by far more damaging to the world than puffing on some naturally grown leaves will ever do. Go wave your self-serving ancient beliefs in front of your weak followers because the rest of us ain't buying it.
Cliff Hanger January 31, 2013 at 06:13 PM
Amen, Zuzu! There's now even scientific evidence that the THC in marijuana slows or sometimes stops malignant tumors. My father was dying of lung cancer back in the late 60's and the medical community had given up. I spoon fed him the stuff and the man gained weight, lasted painlessly for another 18 months and died quietly in his sleep. That this fight has taken 40 plus years is a true disgrace and utter sell out by our fearless leaders to their sponsors.
Walter White February 01, 2013 at 12:08 AM
Nancy's at it again furiously typing her manifestos in a little log cabin on the grounds of the Patty Turner Senior Center between games of bingo and mahjong.
Doesnt matter February 03, 2013 at 12:53 AM
The thought process of thinking marijuana is harmful is pretty funny. I don't understand why an herb that can save lives is so bad. Tobacco kills so many people and so do your military grade assault rifles. Go to medicaljane.com and just look around that website. If you still think marijuana is harmful then you either can't read or your brainwashed my propaganda. Gay marriage and marijuana are very similar in the following way; the face that they're illegal is based off of ignorance. Also, e-mail your congress man to support the legalization of medical marijuana.
The Q February 04, 2013 at 12:32 PM
Nancy must smoke crack.....not pot.


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