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Park City imposes 120-day marijuana moratorium

Park City Mayor Steve Pannell City Attorney Peter Karlovics brief City Council new state medical marijuanlegislation. | ED COLLINS/for SUN-TIMES

Park City Mayor Steve Pannell and City Attorney Peter Karlovics brief the City Council on new state medical marijuana legislation. | ED COLLINS/for SUN-TIMES MEDIA

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Updated: November 6, 2013 3:16AM

If state officials decide to locate a medical marijuana cultivation facility or a cannabis dispensary in Park City, where would the best place be to locate it?

That’s the question that was on the minds of the City Council at their meeting Thursday night, Sept. 5.

Aldermen decided to give themselves some research time to ponder the question by approving an ordinance that will give them 120 days after Dec. 31 to plan for such a possibility.

On Aug. 1, Gov. Pat Quinn signed temporary legislation for “The Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act” that he believes will provide beneficial relief to seriously ill patients. Illinois is the 20th state to authorize such legislation.

State Rep. Lou Lang (D-Skokie), who sponsored the measure, said his goal was simply to provide a better quality of life for some very sick people. The bill becomes effective on Jan. 1, and the executive branch of state government will have four months from that date to define specific ground rules for the state-administered program.

Mayor Steve Pannell said it’s unlikely that Park City will be a site for a cannabis cultivation center since there is very little open space for agricultural activity. However, a marijuana dispensary could be a possibility should the state so designate.

“We have four months in the new year, while the State develops their regulations, to adequately review and adopt any necessary changes to the city’s municipal code and our zoning ordinance to adequately protect the public’s health and safety from the effects of this new legislation,” Pannell indicated.

Can a community decline such a facility if designated by the state? Apparently not, according to City Attorney Peter Karlovics, who said he understands that State Police District boundaries will be used in selecting locations.

While medical marijuana use has gained support of the State Legislature, there is little likelihood that they will decriminalize the use of marijuana anytime soon. Illinois has the fifth highest arrest rate for marijuana use in the country.

Penalties for use are harsh. A recent study by the ACLU found that nearly 50,000 Illinoisans were arrested for marijuana possession in 2010.

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