JOLIET – A request for what was termed as the first special use permit for a medical marijuana dispensary in the state of Illinois was tabled Monday by the City Council.
Michael Martin, a Joliet attorney representing the developer, Fire Management Services, answered questions about the project, but asked the council to hold off on a decision until July.
Martin requested the extra time to discuss the project with business and condominium associations near the proposed dispensary at 1627 Rock Creek Blvd. in the Rock Run Business Park, near Houbolt Road and Interstate 80.
Martin said the pending Joliet special use permit request was the first in Illinois he was aware of under the state’s Medical Cannabis Pilot Program.
Martin told the council the dispensary would maintain a limited amount of drugs and cash at the site. Cannabis would be available mostly in pill and liquid form, though some prescriptions could be smoked, he said.
Martin said the dispensary, which he compared to a pharmacy, would treat about 200 patients, most about twice a month. Deliveries could be made to home bound patients, as well. Typical patients would be those receive chemotherapy for cancer, children with epilepsy and people suffering from paralysis, he said.
Even if Joliet green-lights the project, there is no guarantee that the state will approve it.
Under the program, three cannabis dispensaries and one grower will be allowed in Will, Grundy and Kendall counties, City Manager Jim Hock said.
Martin said Joliet, as the county seat, would be considered a good location for a dispensary.
Martin said state consideration, let alone approval, of any dispensary is still months away. Even if the project is approved, it could take another year before it acquires the marijuana products, which must be grown by a state-licensed cultivator, he said.
Councilwoman Jan Quillman questioned Martin about the large size of the property, which includes a drive-in garage, and about regulations and background checks of those operating the dispensary. She also questioned whether anyone with a medical background would be on site.
Martin said the drive-in was necessary for security and the site would include several consultation rooms required under health privacy laws.
David Donka, one of the developers on the project, noted that while doctors will write prescriptions for medical marijuana, it’s the dispensary operators that have the knowledge of how to fill them.
“Doctors can’t be on the premises under state law because of the potential for abuse,” Martin said. Operators need to be certified under state law, he noted.
The dispensaries are an expensive proposition. The filing fee alone is $25,000, Martin said, with yearly renewals running $5,000. Applicants must have $50,000 in escrow and $400,000 in liquid corporate assets, Martin said.
In other business at Monday’s pre-council session, Hock gave a short report on the city’s police and fire pension funds. The program is facing a $250 million future shortfall that needs to be 90 percent funded by 2033, Hock said.
Hock said the city was working with the police and fire unions to take steps to ensure funding. Funding of the fire pension fund has increased from 44 percent to 46.2 percent, while funding of the police pension fund has grown from 50.8 percent to 52.9 percent, he said.
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