With applications for cannabis facilities due no later than next week (the filing period is September 8-22, 2014), local zoning boards and city councils in Illinois have been busy considering zoning applications to allow these facilities within their jurisdiction. Illinois medical cannabis law is arguably the strictest of the 24 laws that have been enacted across the country, allowing licenses for only 22 marijuana cultivation sites and 60 dispensaries, that have to be distributed among specified geographic regions throughout the state through a competitive licensing process.
One of the requirements in the state licensing application is a certification that the proposed cultivation facility or dispensary complies with all local building and zoning codes. While municipalities cannot ban cannabis facilities outright, they can restrict them to specific districts or impose reasonable conditions on their permits. Some municipalities have amended their zoning codes to require special use permits for the facilities; others have restricted them to particular zoning districts, such as the agricultural or industrial districts.
Although it was assumed that these facilities would be hotly contested, in reality many communities are coming around in favor of the facilities because of the potential economic benefits medical cannabis can bring. Some communities have been actively negotiating with cannabis companies to provide financial and other benefits to the community if the facilities are approved.
Wherever Illinois' 60 medical marijuana dispensaries and 22 cultivation facilities are eventually located, it looks like patients will not be the only ones to benefit. Medical cannabis will be a boon to business in Illinois—not to mention a boon to government. The non-refundable state application fee for a cultivation facility license is $25,000; operating fees for successful licensees will total in the hundreds of thousands annually. And due to a little local clout in the decision-making process, counties and municipalities may end up benefiting as well.
Post Authored by Julie Tappendorf