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Expecting blunt opinions

  • Written by Bob Rakow

Public to have its say at Friday’s meeting to

discuss a medical marijuana clinic in Worth

Worth trustees will decide if a medical marijuana dispensary can locate on Harlem Avenue at a rare Friday night meeting and members of the public will have a chance to have their say.
Trustees will meet at 7:30 p.m. to consider changes to the village code that would allow a medical marijuana dispensary to locate in the village’s business district. The meeting could get lively if opposition is heavy. At least one resident publically said he is going to the meeting to protest the dispensary.
Mayor Mary Werner is ready.
She said she expects residents who both favor and oppose the potential marijuana dispensary in town to attend Friday’s meeting.
She said nurses from Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn attended the Aug. 19 board meeting, and two spoke in favor of the use of medical marijuana.
“On Friday, obviously, everybody will have the opportunity to speak,” she said.
She added, however, that it’s important to be informed about medical marijuana.
“Medical cannabis comes in a variety of forms. I think it’s an education process for a lot of people,” she said.
After the public’s comments, the board plans to get down to business to consider a special-use permit submitted by the Windy City Cannabis Club, the group proposing to open the dispensary at 11425 S. Harlem Ave., next to Enterprise Car Sales.
The board agreed to meet on Friday so that WCCC can submit its application to the state on Monday.
None of the six trustees voiced opposition to the plan when WCCC president Steve Weisman appeared at the Aug. 19 board meeting, Werner said.
“My direction to the board was to plan to do their homework,” Werner said Tuesday.
The Harlem Avenue location is one of the few in Worth that meets the state’s zoning requirements that prohibits clinics from locating within 1,000 feet of a school or daycare center.
Weisman’s group had considered locations in Chicago Ridge, but had difficulty finding one that met the zoning requirements.
Chicago Ridge does not allow the clinics within 1,000 feet of parks or recreation facilities, which made the finding a location in that community even more difficult, Weisman said.
Chicago Ridge officials had few reservations about having a dispensary at a village board meeting attended by Weisman. But Trustee Bruce Quintos later expressed his opposition to a clinic, saying a public hearing should be held to gauge residents’ feelings on the plan.
If approved, however, WCCC’s Worth clinic would be the sole dispensary for a region of the state that includes Worth, Calumet and Stickney townships.
The state’s medical cannabis act took effect on January 1. The law allows the use of marijuana by individuals who have a medical need and a permit. Qualifying patients must be diagnosed by a physician as having a debilitating medical condition. A qualifying patient can obtain up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana every two weeks.
Illinois is expected to begin taking applications for 60 medical marijuana businesses in September. Those who want to want to apply must have “an application pinned down,” said Weisman, an attorney for Kirkland and Ellis.
In the end, however, only one dispensary will locate in the area because only 60 dispensaries are permitted statewide with regions of the state divided into dispensary districts.
Clinics are expected to open in spring 2015, which does not give selected clinics much time to prepare their sites for business and prepare a security plan.
Clients must possess a state ID card to purchase marijuana and can only obtain 2.5 ounces every two weeks, Weisman said.