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Gurnee places moratorium on medical marijuana

Updated: February 5, 2014 3:26AM

GURNEE — This village has placed a one-year moratorium on the question of whether to occupy a medical marijuana facility within the community. Officials said it will to figure out how best to implement such a complex and controversial law.

Many communities throughout the state have also implemented moratoriums of various durations on medical marijuana clinics for similar reasons.

Gurnee’s action took place Monday night, Dec. 2, following a request by David Ziegler, director of the village’s Community Development Department.

The state recently adopted a statute that will allow the legal cultivation and distribution of medical marijuana within Illinois after Jan. 1, 2014. However, state administrative rules implementing the program will not be issued until late summer or early fall of 2014.

Communities will not be able to opt-out of the state program. They can only maintain a degree of control through zoning ordinances and administrative municipal codes.

Under the law, physicians will be able to prescribe up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis for a two-week renewable period for patients who possess a debilitating medical condition.

Following final approval of state rules and regulations next year, officials will then consider applications from proposed operators of cultivation farms and dispensaries who can settle anywhere within Illinois. A maximum of 60 dispensaries and 22 cultivation farms will be allowed throughout the state.

Zoning for these facilities is expected to be a significant local issue, and many communities such as Gurnee will proceed cautiously until more information about the program is known.

Meanwhile, municipal planning and zoning committees are digging their heels in to cope with this new time-consuming enterprise.

Here in Lake County, many municipalities have joined a special county-wide task force to provide some direction, hoping to save their communities from lengthy research and duplicative effort. Others are contacting municipalities in states like California or others, to seek model local ordinances where the program is already operating.

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