Those hoping to grow or distribute medical marijuana in St. Clair County will need special approval from the County Board.
Board members approved amending its zoning code Tuesday to include rules dictating the operation and location of medical marijuana facilities in the county.
"In Illinois they are going to allow for medical use of marijuana but they are still working through the details of that. They are going to allow so many of these places to be set up across various counties," County Administrator Dan Maher said. "In terms of zoning, we have to pre-empt that process and at least have zoning in place in case one is approved. It's not necessarily an endorsement of marijuana use but certainly acknowledging the fact there will be medical use of it, and people have the right to apply for it."
The measure brings the county's code in compliance with state law, which allows the use of marijuana to treat debilitating medical conditions, such as cancer, HIV/AIDS, glaucoma and other conditions.
Proposed cultivation centers or dispensaries must receive a special use permit approved by the County Board before applying to state officials, which grant final approval for the businesses. Locally, facilities will be housed in districts zoned for agriculture, business and industrial uses.
Only one cultivation center will be approved per state police district. The local state police district includes St. Clair, Madison, Bond, Clinton and Monroe counties.
Up to 60 dispensaries will be approved around the state.
The county's new codes mirror proposed state rules requiring cultivation centers to have a live security camera surveillance viewable by state police and state agriculture officials to inspect the site at least once a week. Cultivation centers and dispensaries must be in an enclosed and locked facility.
A cultivation center also may not be located within 2,500 feet of a school, day care or area zoned residential. Medical cannabis dispensaries must not be located within 1,000 feet of such schools or residential areas.
Dispensaries also will not be permitted to have a drive-through service or allow anyone younger than 18 from entering.
In other news, the board unanimously endorsed the Kaskaskia-Cahokia Trail as a scenic and historic route. Board members hope the endorsement will spur the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency and Illinois Office of Tourism to advertise the route to the public, and state transportation officials to erect plaques or signs noting the trail's historical significance.
The trail, which is the oldest road in the state, has been named as one of the most endangered historic places in Illinois. The trail links a host of historic sites, such as the Cahokia Courthouse, Fort Kaskaskia and others.
Contact reporter Daniel Kelley at firstname.lastname@example.org or 618-239-2501.`