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updated: 4/1/2014 5:02 PM

Hanover Park weighs medical marijuana restrictions

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  • Hanover Park officials are reviewing regulations for the sale of medical marijuana.

    Hanover Park officials are reviewing regulations for the sale of medical marijuana.
    Associated Press File Photo


As the clock runs out on Hanover Park's moratorium on medical marijuana, growers are unlikely to set up shop in town.

The state's restrictions confine producers of the drug to a small sliver of the village where an established business already stands.

But what to do with the drug's sellers has raised a debate between a village panel that wants to treat them like pharmacies and village staff members who embrace stricter rules.

Under Illinois' first medical marijuana law -- effective in January -- patients with certain illnesses like cancer, HIV and multiple sclerosis can buy the drug in limited amounts from state-approved dispensaries.

The village adopted a six-month moratorium last August and renewed it in January while state officials iron out the implementation of the law. Hanover Park is set to lift the temporary ban in late June.

Now, trustees are reviewing proposed regulations outlining the location and look of dispensaries.

The village's development commission has endorsed more lenient rules that would allow licensed sellers to rent out of multitenant buildings in commercial and industrial areas. Against the police department's recommendation, the panel also has supported the sale of drug paraphernalia in dispensaries to bring convenience to qualified patients.

But village staff members say sellers should be limited to stand-alone facilities away from other businesses. Officials fear that the drug's stigma could turn off developers from snapping up vacant spaces neighboring dispensaries.

Community and Economic Development Director Shubhra Govind said sellers don't need the retail exposure of drugstore chains.

"It's not an impulse buy," Govind said. "It's something that regardless of whether they are located in a retail or an industrial area, there's a finite number of people looking for them."

Mayor Rodney Craig said he wants sellers barred from an area slated for a long-term residential and retail project called the Village Center.

"I think the best choice for the community is to put it away from families and homes," Craig said. "Let's put it where it belongs: in an industrial park."

Trustees will review the measures during a village board workshop Thursday. Another issue is whether to require dispensaries to tighten security with lighting, for instance.

Officials say the village should take a conservative approach to guard against potential issues that could pop up in the state's four-year pilot program.

"I would like to move slowly into this kind of change," Craig said.

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