Naperville council to consider regulations for allowing pot processing, infusing, transporting in town

  • This past October, Naperville's existing medical marijuana dispensary began selling recreational pot out of its rebranded and renovated facility, Rise Naperville. The city council now is expected to consider whether to also allow cannabis-related processing, infusing and transporting organizations in town.

      This past October, Naperville's existing medical marijuana dispensary began selling recreational pot out of its rebranded and renovated facility, Rise Naperville. The city council now is expected to consider whether to also allow cannabis-related processing, infusing and transporting organizations in town. John Starks | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 12/9/2020 4:18 PM

Months after repealing its ban on recreational marijuana sales, the Naperville City Council is poised to consider allowing other types of cannabis-related businesses in town.

The controversial ordinance approved in August permits up to three dispensaries by right within certain zoning districts. Mayor Steve Chirico has since proposed updating the measure to incorporate regulations for cannabis processing, transporting and infusing organizations, which he says could benefit Naperville economically but are currently prohibited under the city code.

 

At least four council members directed staff members last month to prepare a report on the potential zoning amendments, now expected to be discussed during the Jan. 5 meeting. Based on the direction of elected officials and any additional research requested, a full draft of the ordinance would need to go through the planning and zoning review process before returning to the council for a final vote.

In addition to legalizing adult-use marijuana as of Jan. 1, Chirico said, the state's Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act has opened the door to a whole new industry of ancillary services and employment opportunities "that (won't) be in any way a negative for our community."

"I think we need to clean up this ordinance because I don't think it was anybody's intention to prohibit those types of businesses and jobs from being here in Naperville," he said.

Some council members, including John Krummen and Patrick Kelly, said they would not yet commit to supporting the zoning amendment but are interested in further exploring the concept.

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Facilities that transport or produce cannabis-infused products, cannabis concentrate or any other marijuana items must be licensed by the Department of Agriculture, according to city documents.

Council members are expected to discuss whether such organizations should be allowed as a permitted or conditional use, and if any additional conditions should apply, such as specific security measures or distance requirements from schools, residential areas and other cannabis businesses.

If the measure moves forward, the city would continue to ban craft growers, adult-use cultivation centers and on-site marijuana consumption, documents show.

An existing medical marijuana dispensary was the first in the city to begin selling recreational pot in a remodeled and rebranded facility, now called Rise Naperville, in October. Occupancy permits also were reserved for two other dispensaries -- Zen Leaf and Sunnyside Dispensary -- filling the city's cap just weeks after the council's approval of adult-use marijuana sales.

Naperville has since received inquiries from ancillary businesses interested in operating within the city, officials said. Chirico and City Manager Doug Krieger also pointed to an existing company in the community that produces equipment for the distillation and processing of CBD, which is "completely legal" under the city's code, but that also could be used to process THC, they said.

"There are these kind of gray areas that we did not think about and didn't really bring up and make rules around when we initially talked about recreational cannabis," Krieger said.

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