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posted: 1/7/2014 3:35 PM

Carol Stream discusses medical marijuana zoning changes

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If a medical marijuana dispensing organization comes to Carol Stream, it likely will be limited to the village's business district.

Staff members and trustees on Monday began discussing potential zoning changes to help regulate medical marijuana cultivation centers and dispensing organizations in the event either move to Carol Stream. The discussion came five days after Illinois became the 20th state to legalize medical marijuana.

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Any proposed zoning amendments would be in addition to restrictions already in the state law. That law restricts cultivation center locations so only 22 businesses can register to grow medical marijuana -- one in each state police district. Such businesses cannot be within 2,500 feet of the property line of a school, day care center or residential area.

"The chance of a cultivation center being located in Carol Stream is pretty slim," said Don Bastian, assistant community development director.

The act also allows up to 60 medical marijuana dispensing organizations to be established in the state, and those are not geographically limited by state police districts. Those businesses may not be within 1,000 feet of the property line of a school or day care, and they cannot be in an area zoned for residential use.

In the fall, the DuPage Mayors and Managers Conference studied the implications of the medical marijuana act on municipalities. In the group's survey, 11 of the 20 DuPage towns that responded reported they either had approved or were contemplating zoning amendments to address medical marijuana facilities. Bartlett, Downers Grove and Lombard did not respond to the survey, but all three have approved zoning changes.

"An outright ban (of these facilities) is viewed as not likely to survive a legal challenge," Bastian said.

Village staff members are recommending adding "medical marijuana cultivation center" and "medical marijuana dispensing organization" as allowable uses in the zoning code.

"I think the recommendation seems, at this point, appropriate," Trustee Rick Gieser said. "It gives us a chance to investigate but, at the same time, it will give the public an opportunity to participate as well, to comment and not comment as they wish."

Village staff members plan to draft zoning code amendments for formal review and action in the coming months.

"We believe there is time before we have to do anything substantive," Village Manager Joe Breinig said, "but we really wanted to get the issue out there."

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