SPRINGFIELD -- As Illinois' new medical marijuana program gets up and running, state restrictions on where the plants may be grown and sold mean large portions of some communities are off-limits.
Springfield officials considering zoning for medical cannabis cultivation centers and dispensaries received maps Friday showing where the facilities will -- and won't -- be allowed, according to The State Journal-Register.
Small pockets of centrally located areas in the capital city could accommodate a dispensary, but eligible sites are largely limited because of the prevalence of schools and day care centers.
The state's four-year pilot program, which took effect Jan. 1, prohibits dispensaries within 1,000 feet of a school, day care center or child care facility, while cultivation centers must be 2,500 feet away from those sites. Both dispensaries and cultivation centers also are banned in areas zoned for residential use.
Springfield Alderman Frank Edwards said it's crucial for city officials to be able to visualize where dispensaries and cultivation centers could be located as they establish zoning rules.
"We can't be more strict, and we can't be less strict," Edwards said, referring to the state regulations. "But everyone needs to see the map."
The law allows for up to 22 cultivation centers and up to 60 dispensaries statewide.
Lobbyist and developer Chris Stone said at least one group of investors he's working with is eyeing a site for a Springfield dispensary, though they're keeping the location a secret until their application is submitted next month.
The investors, whom he did not identify, also plan to submit applications for three cultivation centers and two other dispensaries across the state. Stone said they expect the combined investment to be at least $10.2 million.
Illinois is one of about two dozen states that have legalized medical marijuana. Illinois' program is considered to be more restrictive than others, because of a limited list of qualifying health conditions, such as cancer and multiple sclerosis.
Patients may begin applying for marijuana ID cards in September, but they must have a doctor's certification to use the drug legally.
Springfield Alderman Joe McMenamin said he's open to having medical marijuana facilities in town, if it's done right.
"With medical marijuana, as opposed to recreational marijuana, as long as it's legal and properly permitted, I think we should be open-minded," he said.