Tuesday, August 26, 2014
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City prepares to permit compassionate use medical Cannabis growing and dispensing facilities

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[August 26, 2014]  LINCOLN - Tonight at the city of Lincoln Committee-of-the-whole workshop meeting, building and safety officer, John Lebegue expects to introduce the topic of allowing medical marijuana growing and dispensing facilities inside the city limits. His request for the city to consider permitting such establishments in the Industrial (I-1) and Commercial (C-1) zones of the city stems from a recommendation made by the Lincoln Planning Commission on Thursday, August 21st.

At the Lincoln Planning Commission meeting, after learning about the stringent guidelines set forth by the state members present voted unanimously to permit the facilities. Commissioners present for that vote were David Klug, committee chair; Mayor Keith Snyder, Bruce Huskins, Vic Martinek, Robert Coombs, Cliff Marble, Leo Logan and Todd Mourning.

During the meeting, Lebegue shared some of the pertinent details of the state law with the commissioners.

In the state of Illinois there are 20 State Police Districts. The state will allow only one cultivation center, or growing facility per district. The law will also confine dispensaries to three per State Police District.

Lebegue theorized that in Logan County the odds of having a cultivation center are pretty thin. He said cultivators are already looking for municipalities that have amended their zoning, and some in this district including Springfield, already have completed that process.

He added though, that he has been contacted by one firm that is interested in Lincoln.

Snyder said he too had been contacted by one firm. Snyder expanded saying the firm had said it was interested in acquiring a location near the two prisons on the outskirts of the city. He said the location is good because the prisons are annexed into the city and have public water and city sewer already, something the cultivation center would need.

Lebegue shared that the state law prohibits a cultivation center from being closer than 2,500 feet to a preschool or elementary school, or secondary school, daycare, or any area zoned for residential use. Because of this Lebegue said the only parcel currently within city limits would be located near the Sysco warehouse on Fifth Street Road.

Lebegue and Snyder both pointed out that there are areas on the outskirts of the city, such as near the prisons that could be annexed in without much difficulty. Lebegue said the reason the cultivation centers look for property in the city limits is for the water. He noted that the Cannabis plants will be grown in a greenhouse and that the plants consume large amounts of water for growth. Connecting to the city water supply would be much preferred over wells.

In regard to the dispensaries, state law says they may be located in a commercial zone, with the stipulation they are at least 1,000 feet from any school. They may not be located in a house or apartment or any area zoned as residential.

Lebegue said he had studied the state laws, and felt they were sufficient, so all the city would have to do would be add the language to the zoning laws, permitting cannabis facilities. He said in examining this issue, he felt that allowing this new type of industry would not harm the city, and in fact would generate new tax revenues that in the end would help the city.

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In addition, it was noted that the cultivation centers typically require about 60 employees. So, if the center were to come to Lincoln, it could help decrease unemployment in the area.

During the discussion, Marble said he wanted to hear the mayor’s opinion on the subject. Snyder said his primary concern was that of security. He said that he had directed the party that called him to contact the chief of police and talk to him. Snyder said he wasn’t sure the Chief (Ken Greenslate) was completely sold on the idea, but he had raised no serious objections.

Mourning also commented that what the commissioners were discussing was allowing a legitimate business to come to town. He noted, “This is not going to be like the guys you see selling in town, this is a real business.”

Logan commented that if this could be good for the city revenues, then it was something the Planning Commission needed to support. He finished saying it would be no different than allowing a brewery to come into town. However, some thought it would be a little different.

In the end, the commissioners took the vote to recommend, and it passed unanimously.

Outside the meeting, Lebegue made an additional comment about the Cannabis. He said what the public will need to know and understand is that Cannabis grown for medical purposes is not the same plant as is grown for illegal drug use. The plant has medicinal purposes that have nothing to do with being a hallucinogen.

According to a wide variety of sources via the internet, large pharmaceutical companies are getting behind the development of Cannabis as a medication. Research is ongoing on genetic modification of the plant by companies such as Monsanto. Using genetically modified Cannabis plants, it is hoped that products may be derived from Cannabis that can be used in medication compounds. Medical research is showing that Cannabis as a medication has some significant positive results in the treatment of a variety of debilitating diseases. The drug has already proven beneficial in pain management for cancer patients, and is used to help increase appetite in AIDS victims.


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