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updated: 2/3/2014 10:27 PM

S. Elgin considers moratorium on medical marijuana

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While the Elgin City Council has approved regulations for businesses that grow or sell medical marijuana, the village of South Elgin is looking at imposing a one-year moratorium on issuing such permits.

Illinois' first medical marijuana law, which went into effect Jan. 1, says the state can have 22 growers and 60 dispensaries.

But state officials are still working through the details of how to implement the four-year pilot program that would allow people with about a dozen diseases, including cancer and multiple sclerosis, to use marijuana for pain.

That's why South Elgin staff members recommended the moratorium, which got a preliminary OK from the board Monday night, Director of Community Development Steve Super said.

"We have several questions about exactly how this new law will be administered," Super said.

Basic information such as hours of operation still has to be determined, Village Attorney Derke Price said.

"There are no bandwagons we have to jump on immediately," Village President Steve Ward said.

In Elgin, the city council last month approved zoning regulations requiring marijuana growers and dispensaries to get conditional use permits in industrial and office research parks, away from the city's arterial roads.

Medical marijuana businesses could attract stigmas similar to those attached to payday-loan and cash-for-gold businesses, fortune tellers and massage parlors, Elgin Community Development Director Mark Mylott said.

Having growers and dispensaries in "higher retail areas" could have negative effects on those areas, Elgin Corporation Council William Cogley said.

State law requires growers to be at least 2,500 feet away from schools and day care centers as well as residential areas. Dispensaries have to be 1,000 feet away from schools and day care centers.

In Elgin, dispensaries will have to keep their distance from residential areas, too. Also, any Elgin growers or dispensaries will have to have security measures and outdoor lighting, and no drive-through facilities.

Elgin Councilman John Prigge said the city could consider easing its restrictions in the future, if the need arises.

"Probably like pawn shops, probably there will be a gradual acceptance over something that is new, that is controversial," Prigge said.

South Elgin Trustee Robert Sauceda asked what would happen if the state comes up with precise regulations before the moratorium is up. The village board can rescind the moratorium -- which still has to be formally approved -- any time, Price said.

"We can gather all the information that's needed and make one sound decision, instead of doing it piecemeal," South Elgin Trustee Lisa Guess said.

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