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updated: 9/10/2013 4:25 PM

Buffalo Grove talks ins and outs of medical marijuana law

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The Buffalo Grove police chief briefed the village board Monday on the unanswered questions related to the legalization of medical marijuana.

Chief Steven Casstevens delivered what he called the "Reader's Digest" version of the impact of the "Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act," which takes effect Jan. 1.

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"While the law has been passed, there (are) a lot of rules that have to be promulgated that will establish the details of all the parts of this law," he said.

State regulators are required to file rules and regulations for the program with the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules, where they will be subject to public comment.

Much of the work of inspection and enforcement, he said, will rest on the shoulders of the Illinois Department of Public Health, the Illinois State Police and the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation.

He said many questions still need to be answered. For one thing, the law provides for up to 22 cultivation centers in the state, but while it was designed to have one cultivation center in each state police district, there are only 21 police districts.

"So nobody knows where the 22nd one is going to go yet," he said.

The legislation also allows up to 60 dispensaries, which will be available to people covered under 35 specific medical conditions. The Department of Agriculture has 120 days from Jan. 1 to write rules that apply to these facilities.

"The department probably won't be accepting applications for the cultivation centers until late fall of 2014," he said.

Already, some things are clear. Cultivation centers cannot be located within 2,500 feet of a school or day care center, day care home or group day care home, or any area zoned for residential use. For dispensing organizations, the restriction is within 1,000 feet.

"Based on what we know of some of the cultivation centers in other states where this is currently legal, they require quite a large area," Casstevens said. "A medium-sized grower out in Colorado has a 13,000-square-foot warehouse and requires 62,000 watts of power and about 2,000 gallons of filtered water each day."

Although municipalities cannot regulate or restrict beyond what is already set out in the act, it allows reasonable zoning ordinances as long as there is no conflict with the existing rules.

"Some of the local law enforcement issues that we'll be dealing with touch more on cannabis possession -- illegal cannabis possession, possession beyond what is allowed by law," he said. The law allows the possession of up to 2 ounces. No one can possess or use cannabis on a school bus, on the grounds of a preschool primary or secondary school, in a correctional facility or in any private residence used for licensed child care, day care or similar social services. It is also prohibited in the passenger area of a vehicle.

He said he will be working with the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police on a follow-up bill in the legislature to clarify some of the vague areas in the legislation.

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