City leaders look ahead to future with medical marijuana

By Maggie Hockenberry , Amanda Porterfield |

Published 07/25 2014 11:18AM

Updated 08/05 2014 06:12PM

Update: 6:01 pm, 8/5/14, Tuesday
URBANA -- City leaders are planning areas for possible pot shops. They were able to decide on areas to put the new businesses. Now, they're waiting to see what the state decides.

The city council met and discussed regulations for the shops. There are three potential groups wanting to open a business. One group, called Natural Choice Co-op, is from Colorado. It discussed what it wanted to do in Urbana.

Some regulations were set about where dispensaries can be. They have to be 2,500 feet away from schools, daycares and residential areas.

The city says there will be two licensed sellers and one grower. Urbana is part of a nine-county area being considered. The city will now wait to hear from the state to decide who will get a license and where it would be located.

The city says there could be nearly 700 patients with prescriptions which would have to come from doctors. The dispensary would be used for refills. The state passed a pilot cannabis program last August. The law went into effect January 1.

No dispensaries have been approved yet. Marijuana will have a one-percent sales tax and another seven-percent tax specific to medical marijuana sales.
Original: 10:01 pm, 7/24/14, Thursday
URBANA -- City leaders are starting a trend in Champaign County. They want to be ready for medical marijuana. The Urbana Planning Commission is zoning the city, decided where a dispensary or cultivation center could possible go. WCIA-3's Amanda Porterfield has more.

Leaders say they expect to see a facility in Champaign County by the first of the year, but the plan presented Thursday night was crafted carefully because there are strict rules about where one could go. Soon, a place to grow and hand out medical marijuana could be somewhere in town.

"It's definitely different."

Libby Tyler's been in community development 14 years and has seen almost every kind of business there is.

"Land uses change and this is a new type of use."

Where medical marijuana can be sold or grown is limited because they're LULU's; locally unwanted land uses.

"You want to site those carefully. We would consider schools and daycare centers to be sensitive. We want to keep those LULU's far away from our sensitive areas."

The red and purple areas on this map show where stores could go in town. State law says they can't be within 1,000 feet of the green blobs. They're also not allowed in residential areas, restricted to business areas like Cunningham Avenue and downtown.

"We've done a lot of research, a lot of studying and we feel this is a good proposal for the zoning ordinance."

Growers have to be 2,500 feet away from those sensitive areas. On this map, the bright green spot is the only place city leaders believe is appropriate to put one; way on the northern side of the city, off Lincoln Avenue. But, no matter where it ends up, city officials say realtors have already shown interest in building.

"I think anytime you have a limited supply, people get excited and anxious that maybe this can become a big business in Illinois. and people want to benefit from that."

There can only be two dispensaries and one cultivation center in Champaign County. Thursday night, the planning committee voted whether to send the zoning proposal to the board for final approval. The vote was "yes" 5 - 0.

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