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Lake County medical marijuana task force develops regulations

<p>ADVANCE FOR USE MONDAY AUG. 5 AND THEREAFTER - FILE - In this Dec. 6, 2012 file photo, Michael Cardenas shows medical marijuana he purchases outside Arizona Organix, the first legal medical marijuana dispensary to open in Glendale, Ariz. Illinois has become the 20th state to legalize medical marijuana with some of the strictest standards in the nation. But the proposal will take many months to set into motion because of complex rules and regulations. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, File) ORG XMIT: CX301</p>

Sun-Times Media file photo. 

The following is a press release from the Lake County Planing, Building and Development Department on a new task force created to regulate medical marijuana cultivation sites and dispensaries zoning. Read on for details. 

After several months of study and collaboration, the Lake County Medical Cannabis Zoning Task Force has developed model zoning regulations for the siting and operation of medical cannabis cultivation centers and dispensaries. 

The Task Force was assembled in August 2013, in response to the passage of the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act (Public Act 098-0122). This new state law, effective Jan. 1, 2014, will allow for the licensing of a limited number of medical cannabis dispensaries and cultivation centers and the prescribing of medical cannabis to patients in Illinois. The Act authorizes local governments to enact "reasonable" zoning regulations for medical cannabis facilities and many communities are now in the process of enacting their own regulations.

The Lake County Medical Cannabis Zoning Task Force took an innovative and comprehensive approach to developing local regulations. By bringing together over two thirds of Lake County's municipalities and County government, this became an inter-jurisdictional and regional approach to drafting model medical cannabis facility zoning regulations. Through the Task Force's broad membership among planners, law enforcement, managers and others, the resulting model regulations also represent a multi-disciplinary solution to land use regulation.

The group's collective efforts also demonstrate the growing emphasis on inter-governmental shared services. Lake County Board Chairman Aaron Lawlor explained, "This County-wide taskforce is a model of government collaboration and efficiency. Instead of each community trying to develop regulations individually, we came together to share ideas and resources. The result is a set of model regulations that can be used consistently across Lake County."

The model regulations focus on medical cannabis facility location and setbacks from various protected land uses, on-site facility design, signage, facility access and security features. Following the development of these model regulations, participating communities plan to adopt their own individual ordinances based on the model. It is anticipated that these ordinances will take effect well in advance of the State's completion of its Administrative Rulemaking process, only after which medical cannabis facilities can be registered for operation by the State Departments of Agriculture and Financial & Professional Regulation. The Act itself limits the total number of such facilities throughout the state to no more than 60 dispensaries and 22 cultivation centers (only one per each multi-county Illinois State Police District).

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