GLEN CARBON — A proposed medical marijuana dispensary in Glen Carbon has the Edwardsville Board of Education, as well as residents of the Ginger Creek subdivision, deeply concerned about the safety of children and the community as a whole.
A key point of the contention is the board and residents of the neighborhood also felt as if they were not properly notified about the coming dispensary.
“We were shocked,” Ginger Creek Homeowner Association President Joan Humes said. “We didn’t know anything until five days ago.”
Both the Village of Glen Carbon and Nature’s Care, LLC, the owner of the proposed dispensary, disagree with that statement. In an open letter to the Edwardsville Board of Education on the Village of Glen Carbon’s website, the village gave four instances of previous notifications and discussions.
“Specifically, village officials publicly discussed the state approval process on Aug. 12, Aug. 19, Sept. 16 and Sept. 23, 2014,” the letter on their website said. “The two village board meetings that discussed the medical marijuana dispensary application were also broadcast on ECTV. The video tape meetings are also on the Glen Carbon website for the public.”
Nature’s Care, LLC partner, Mitch Meyers, said that she would not have invested in the dispensary if the Glen Carbon Village Board had not approved their application.
“There is a substancial amount of money invested because we had approval,” Meyers said. “It costs a nonrefundable $5,000 just to apply in the state of Illinois.”
Meyers also said that the medical marijuana law was a pilot program in Illinois and could be shut down by 2017. As a business owner, she said the situation is incredibly risky.
Neither the Edwardsville Board of Education or Humes said they were against the use of medical marijuana.
“We’re not against medical marijuana,” Humes said. “We are against it being in residential zones.”
The proposed location of the dispensary operated by Nature’s Care, LLC would be 1,144 ft. from a sports field operated by the Edwardsville School District. According to the Illinois state law regarding the location of dispensaries, the dispensary must not be within 1,000 ft. of the school.
“I don’t know what I can do,” Meyers said. “I abide by all the setbacks in the state law.”
Meyers said that the dispensary would be 4,000 ft. from Edwardsville High School. She added that Illinois state law also states that municipalities cannot unnecessarily restrict cultivation centers and dispensaries beyond state law. The Edwardsville Board of Education acknowledged this rule in a letter to the Village of Glen Carbon also sent to the Telegraph.
“But they can use local zoning measures to ensure the facilities go in the most appropriate places,” Edwardsville Superintendent Dr. Ed Hightower said in the letter.
Humes said in an interview with the Telegraph that the proposed location within the Ginger Creek subdivision would not be an appropriate place for a marijuana dispensary.
“It’s in the heart of our subdivision,” Humes said. “There’s common ground right in front of it that we pay taxes on and maintain. Our children play there and we take pictures there. There’s one entrance in and out of the subdivision and we’ll have to share it with the dispensary.”
Humes added that there is a large Girl Scouts office adjacent to the proposed dispensary that serves 44 communities. She said she sees children playing outside of it constantly. She feels that a marijuana dispensary would not be good for children to see or be around.
“Kids will not be coming by this place or hanging out by this place,” Meyers promised.
According to Meyers, the dispensary follows all the state requirements for security. Security officers will check the medical marijuana cards of everyone on the premises. No one without a card will be permitted to stay or loiter near the dispensary. Meyers also said the facility has cameras inside and outside of the building that will keep a 24-hour feed of the premises for 90 days as state law requires. She also said there would be a receiving area for deliveries that would protect the public as well as the product.
Nature’s Care, LLC presented its case to the Edwardsville Board of Education Tuesday evening. According to Meyers, Glen Carbon Mayor Robert Jackstadt as well as police chief, Todd Link, were satisfied with the location as well as the security measures involved.
Ginger Creek resident and former practicing attorney, Ron Williams, feels as if the security measures in place will not be enough to protect children from the possible dangers associated with the proposed dispensary.
“According to Illinois Compiled Statutes Sec. 625 ILCS 5/11-501, the statute regarding DUIs, what it says is: anyone who operates a motor vehicle or is in control of one, which could mean listening to the radio in the driveway with the keys in the car, with any trace of marijuana in their blood is guilty of a DUI,” Williams said. “First time it’s a misdemeanor. Second time it’s a felony. Marijuana stays in the system for up to 30 days.”
Williams admitted that the psychoactive effects of marijuana are not active in an individual for the entirety of that 30 days. But, he said that anyone smoking, vaporizing or ingesting the product from the dispensary who operates a motor vehicle afterwards would be legally incapacitated and should not be driving.
“There’s got to be a reason for the law to be like that,” Williams said. “If a law is unnecessary or ineffective, it will be changed.”
Williams added that the intersection closest to the proposed dispensary is already the most dangerous one in Glen Carbon and that traffic and incapacitated drivers from the dispensary would make it even more unsafe.
Another problem proposed by both Humes and Williams was the fact that the dispensary is a cash-only business. Because marijuana is still illegal on the federal level, Federal Reserve issued credit cards cannot be used to purchase marijuana. Humes and Williams believe that a cash-only business dealing with marijuana will bring a criminal element to Glen Carbon.
“I talked to a woman in Fresno, Calif. and California was astonished at the amounts of armed robberies that have occurred at marijuana dispensaries,” Williams said. “My experience in criminal law is that people who use marijuana would rob dispensaries to get other things.”
Research by the Telegraph showed that marijuana dispensaries in both California and Colorado are targets for armed robberies due to the amount of cash on hand.
An article from the Journal of American Medicine provided to the Telegraph from Meyers showed a correlation between legal marijuana use and the decline of overdose deaths from prescription pain killers.
“Opiod addiction is frightening,” Meyers said. “One of the solutions to heavy pain meds is marijuana. You can supplement it with something natural. Use has decreased death by overdose by 25 percent in states that have legalized it.”
Meyers said that the view of medical marijuana users held by residents of Ginger Creek and the Edwardsville Board of Education are not factual. She said that people from throughout the community have called her and told her about their experience with medical marijuana helping them. She recounted a story about a police officer in another municipality telling her that his 84 year-old mother uses marijuana to assist with complications with her glaucoma.
“He said that he is not allowed to know that she does it,” Meyers said. “His brother has to get it for her. A lot of the people who get this are very sick. Many of them are old. People expect them to go to places like Venice, Brooklyn or East St. Louis to get this?”
Meyers said that the potential medical uses of cannabis are incredible. She said that juicing cannabis leaves provide a wellness product that is full of antioxidants without the psychoactive effects. The psychoactive effects are created when THC within the plant is exposed to heat. Another product derived from cannabis is full of the chemical compound CBD (cannabidiol) while being low in THC. Meyers said it has shown incredible progress with epileptic patients and pain management. CBD oil does not have pyschoactive effects either.
There are no deaths resulting directly from an overdose of marijuana or THC. Williams said that he has heard of people dying from marijuana that had been moldy. A report from the Associated Press in December of 2013 did say black market marijuana can be tainted with mold, mildew and insect parts, some of which could prove harmful to health. No deaths directly attributed to marijuana or THC use itself have been proven, however.
The Village of Glen Carbon intends on placing the dispensary in the proposed location that does not violate state laws regarding dispensaries. The Edwardsville Board of Education is not looking into legislative measures to stop the dispensary at this time.
Reporter Cory Davenport can be reached at 618-208-6447 or on Twitter @CoryTelegraphs.
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