ELGIN — By a 5-4 vote Wednesday night the city council nixed a staff recommendation to send a request for conditional use to open a medical marijuana dispensary at 1330 Crispin Drive back to the planning and zoning commission — then voted 8-1 to approve that conditional use.Voting down bouncing the issue back to the commission were John Steffen, Carol Rauschenberger, John Prigge, Tish Powell, and Terry Gavin, with Rich Dunne, Rose Martinez, Toby Shaw and Mayor Dave Kaptain favoring that move.But when it came time to approve granting the conditional use, all but Dunne favored that measure. The application under consideration is from Salveo Health & Wellness, Ltd. — a business started by Chicago attorney and entrepreneur Alex Thiersch and Rockford native and businessman John Dohm — and Garden 6 Joint Venture LGP.In approving the conditional use, Kaptain noted that every drugstore has harder drugs than marijuana. And on a recent vacation to Colorado he noticed that medical marijuana dispensaries differ from shops selling state-legal pot for recreational use.At the dispensaries, “People get their medical marijuana and go home, and that’s what I think it will be here.”Powell noted that change can be difficult, but that medical marijuana will benefit the dozens of people she’s heard from whose illnesses would qualify them to get prescriptions under Illinois law.On Aug. 4, the planning and zoning commission recommended passing along to the city council consideration for approving a special use permit by a 6-1 vote. Commissioner Corey Dixon was the lone nay vote.At issue Wednesday was a letter the city received Aug. 15 from attorney Charles Muscarello in which Muscarello noted that client Harting Inc. of North America, 1375 Crispin Drive, had requested extra time to consider the dispensary application — a matter that was not ruled on that evening. Businesses within 250 of a request for conditional use are allowed to comment on potential impact to their companies and to cross examine those making the request.Muscarello noted Wednesday that Harting and other businesses in the Fox Bluff Corporate Center where the dispensary wants to locate had three main concerns: the aforementioned procedural issue; exterior security; and that the spot may be less than 1,000 feet from homes, and thus at odds with Elgin’s own zoning requirements. He intimated that the businesses may challenge the council’s Wednesday decisions in the state’s courts.Community Development Director Marc Mylott said that a change in parking that Salveo has now agreed to do would address its distance from the homes in question.Thiersch told the council the company he’s hired for security has done work for establishments in war-torn countries and that his system will be second to none. He noted studies showing medical marijuana dispensaries not having a negative impact on crime rates and that those coming to use them are “very, very sick people coming in for medicine” with the marijuana coming in several forms and its use limited to taking place in their homes.As for moving the matter back to the commission, Shaw said he wanted to err on the side of caution to make sure neighbors had a chance to voice their opinions.Steffen and Gavin both said they felt the planning and zoning hearing in August fully vetted the matter. Gavin said that holding back on a vote Wednesday would have jeopardized the Salveo application for its dispensary license moving forward with the state.For its 4-year trial program, the state will be taking applications for licenses in September and eventually will be allowing one medical marijuana cultivation center in each of the 21 Illinois State Police districts and 60 dispensaries across the state, with two of the latter being allowed in Kane County.Entities are allowed to apply for up to five dispensaries and three cultivation centers as long as all are in each category are in different districts. The growing and cultivation centers must be indoor facilities.Salveo also is looking to grow marijuana near Roseville in Warren County in central Illinois and in Winnebago County in northern Illinois. The company would like to have dispensaries in Rockford, Elgin, and Quincy.Thiersch has noted that in Illinois, “only patients with serious debilitating conditions qualify for obtaining a marijuana card. The list of chronic and terminal conditions includes diseases such as cancer, HIV, Parkinson’s, ALS and epilepsy. These are patients who need help controlling their conditions, and who have decided, in conjunction with their doctors, that marijuana can help them… By far, Illinois’ medical marijuana will be the strictest in the nation.”Tags: Elgin City Council, Medical Marijuana [embedded content]
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