Lake County Board eyes hearings on rules for marijuana dispensaries
By Dan Moran firstname.lastname@example.org @NewsSunDanMoran January 14, 2014 7:10PM
The County Board voted unanimously Jan. 14 to direct its Zoning Board of Appeals to conduct public hearings on regulations for dispensaries and cultivation centers that might set up in unincorporated areas. | AP file
Updated: February 16, 2014 6:24AM
Bans on drive-through window service and “cartoonish imagery oriented towards youth” at marijuana dispensaries are among the regulations under consideration as Lake County officials study implementation of the state’s Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act.
The County Board voted unanimously on Tuesday, Jan. 14, to direct its Zoning Board of Appeals to conduct public hearings on regulations for dispensaries and cultivation centers that might set up in unincorporated areas when the state starts issuing permits this spring.
Though the act went into effect on Jan. 1, the state has 120 days from that date to adopt administrative rules on implementation, and local governments have been directed to adopt “reasonable zoning regulations” of their own.
Zoning Board chair Bonnie Thompson Carter of Ingleside said the county is working with 35 municipalities on a set of directives geared to follow the state’s lead while retaining some local input.
“This is happening at a time when our state is still trying to figure out how they’re going to manage this,” Carter said. “I think there are some challenges I would anticipate on how they’re going to control this.”
Carter added that “we learned in committee which I was unaware of — that this is only a cash business, and that really sets up, to me, a lot of concern about how this is going to be controlled and managed. That’s a state issue, but it’s going to be in our neighborhoods or in our county.”
Under a draft ordinance that will be the subject of the public hearings, guidelines focus on both cultivation centers and dispensaries, with some similarities between the proposed regulations.
Among the proposals to be mulled:
• Neither operation would be allowed in proximity to a pre-existing public or private preschool or elementary or secondary school, nor to a day care center, day care home, group day care home, part day child care facility, nor to an area zoned for residential use.
Cultivation centers would have to be 2,500 feet away from such uses, while dispensaries would be 1,000 feet away from the schools and child-care centers and 500 feet away from not only residential areas but also places of worship, parks or forest preserves.
• Signage at both uses would be limited to two and would not be illuminated or feature electronic messages. Signs also could not feature “cannabis imagery such as cannabis leaves, plants, smoke, paraphernalia, or cartoonish imagery oriented towards youth or language referencing cannabis.”
• Neither cultivation centers or dispensaries can admit or employ anyone younger than 18, and dispensaries must post a sign near its entrance stating that “only cardholders, designated caregivers, and staff may enter these premises. Persons under the age of 18 are prohibited from entering.”
• Retail sale of “medical cannabis or medical cannabis infused products” would be banned at cultivation centers, which are limited to manufacturing and production. Along with a ban on drive-through service, dispensaries would be required to post a sign stating that “smoking, eating, drinking or other forms of consumption of cannabis products” is prohibited on the property.
Eric Waggoner, director of the county’s Planning, Building and Development Department, said hearings on the regulations will likely be held in Libertyville before both the Regional Planning Commission and the Zoning Review Board in February, with dates to be announced.
Waggoner added that “depending on the amount of testimony and discussion, there could be more than one meeting” on the subject. Following the public hearings, a proposed set of regulations would go back to the committee level before working its way to the County Board for a final vote.
Among the factors to be considered is whether or not the full board would stage a vote on approving a specific business proposal from a cultivator or dispensary.
Waggoner said an operation would file an application with Planning, Building and Development officials, and any additional requirements for approval would have to be determined.