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updated: 10/15/2013 11:53 AM

Wheaton favors medical pot issued only in manufacturing district

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Any future medical marijuana dispensing operations in Wheaton will likely be limited to the city's manufacturing district.

City council members Monday gave their preliminary approval of zoning changes that would limit any dispensing operations to the industrial and manufacturing zones immediately south and west of the city's downtown.

The proposed zoning amendment would be in addition to restrictions in the state law that allow marijuana to be prescribed to certain patients beginning in January.

State law already restricts cultivation center locations so only 22 businesses can register to grow medical marijuana -- one in each state police district. They cannot be within 2,500 feet of the property line of a school, day care center or residential area.

"That pretty much excludes all property in Wheaton from having a cultivation center. The dispensing organizations have slightly different restrictions," said James Kozik, director of planning and economic development. "It seems to be the trend that the locations where a community is permitting them seems to be in the manufacturing or industrial area."

The state also prohibits businesses that will dispense medical marijuana from being within 1,000 feet of the property line of a school or day care, from opening in any type of residence or residential area, and from referring patients to a physician.

Under the state statute, Kozik said, without city action, dispensing operations could also be located in the Danada shopping area, East Roosevelt Road, portions of the Wheaton College campus and portions of the DuPage County Complex along County Farm Road.

City Manager Don Rose said he believes law enforcement officials would prefer to have dispensing facilities limited to the manufacturing district. Most council members agreed.

"I'd be in favor of limiting it at least to the (manufacturing) area," said Councilman John Prendiville. "It's close to the police station, so that's a good thing."

Councilman John Rutledge said he'd be in favor of expanding the limitations, should major pharmaceuticals companies get involved.

"I'm in favor of initially tacking it to the manufacturing district, and if CVS or Walgreens wanted to sell it, I'd be OK with that," he said.

Councilman Todd Scalzo, however, said he preferred to use the state's regulations.

"I really think that the state's regulations are the more restrictive ones and that the geographic restrictions are irrelevant," he said. "Either way, there will be access. Either way, it's legal, and either way, it's highly restricted, so I'm more on the side of doing nothing and letting the state statute speak for itself."

The city council will vote on the zoning amendment during a future meeting, before January.

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