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Chicago

Chicago and Cook County are a large, highly competitive market for medical marijuana dispensaries and cultivation centers.

This page contains all my blog articles covering the City of Chicago and Cook County.

Chicago Sun-Times obtained the list of licensees as finalized by Quinn’s Administration. Governor Rauner reportedly says he is not yet prepared to act on this list. Sun-Times says former Governor Quinn’s office was still working moments before new Governor Rauner was inaugurated

See Chicago Sun Times: Quinn’s staff’s picks for medical pot businesses released

In answer to the question, were licenses just sitting on Quinn’s desk without action being taken:

His administration was still working to push through the licenses as the media headed to Springfield to witness Gov. Bruce Rauner’s inauguration.

The evening before Rauner took office, Quinn’s staff was still passing around electronic drafts of a press release that would have announced the awarding of 12 cultivation center licenses.

No entity has yet received a licensed. What Sun-Times has obtained is the list of recipients as Quinn’s Administration would have decided them. It remains to be seen what Rauner’s Administration will do with this information.

Green Value Care’s Jerry Weems says minority ownership, employment in medical cannabis industry vital to compassionate care; Organic Leaf spent more on lobbying than legal and everything else combined.

Organic Leaf expenses revealed

Lobbying is by far the largest item on Organic Leaf Dispensaries’ expense sheet.

Lobbying, legal expenses dispensary certificate

What’s the most expensive launch expense?… Lobbying.

Chicago Sun-Times says the company racked up $200,000 in lobbying fees. Alvarez & Associates billed the company $165,000 and Curry & Associates billed the company $36,000.

Sun-Times shows Organic Leaf’s expenses in a nice little display graph of a burning joint. It shows how much was spent on lobbyists, attorneys fees, architects, security consultants and real estate consultants. Lobbying bogarts more than half the joint.

Incidentally, Sun-Times calls Organic Leaf a “smaller player,” implying there may be larger players who spent much more on lobbying.

Even for smaller players, the costs add up, records show.

For example, Organic Leaf Medical Dispensaries, which seeks to open a dispensary in the Ukrainian Village neighborhood, had by November shelled out nearly $300,000 to lawyers, lobbyists, consultants and an architect, according to City of Chicago records obtained through the Freedom of Information Act.

… An owner of Organic Leaf, Iman Bambooyani, said the group is paying rent and utilities at their proposed site at 744 N. Damen. The group also applied for three other dispensary licenses, Bambooyani said.

Jerry Weems says he has “unique perspective”

Green Value Care’s CEO Jerry Weems wrote an editorial in nwtimes.com of Munster, Indiana.

…Minority healthcare companies are needed to eliminate treatment and access disparities in minority communities….

…The Center For Disease Control and Prevention states, “African Americans constitute an estimated 44.5 million making up 14.2 percent of the total United States population.” Moreover, the CDC cites hypertension, diabetes, and heart disease as the leading cause of death for African Americans.

The U.S. Census Bureau reports that Illinois’ population today is over 12.8 million; African-Americans constitute 14.7 percent of the Illinois population.

Hence, minority participation is extremely important as health care providers in the new Illinois medical cannabis industry.

If Jerry Weems and and Green Value Care sounds familiar, it may be because they were the center of articles written by Better Government Association and Chicago Tribune. The articles explained that some people who applied for cultivation and dispensary licenses in Illinois have ties to former Governor Quinn. Some of Weems’ projects, for example, received funds under the controversial Neighborhood Recovery Initiative.

Quinn talks to Associated Press

Regarding licenses not issuing yet, Governor Quinn gave comments to Associated Press today. The statements indicate that he himself is not directly responsible for any delays, but rather the agencies that work for him have not been able to complete a task they should have begun on September 23.

See Associated Press (via SunHerald.com): Time short for Quinn on Illinois medical marijuana licenses

The Chicago Democrat told The Associated Press that he instructed the two state agencies involved “that they have — not me — they have to do it right. Frankly to take as much time as necessary to do it right in interpreting a complicated law.”

Also

The political ties of some applicants have come under scrutiny, but Quinn on Friday denied that this has anything to do with the delay in awarding the licenses. His aides have said the unidentified panelists assigning scores to the applications won’t know the identities of the applicants, only their qualifications.

…Quinn could leave the decision to Rauner, but that could lead to further delays. Rauner has criticized the selection process as secretive and subject to cronyism. During the campaign, Rauner suggested auctioning the licenses to the highest qualified bidders.

“A Rauner administration will review the status of the program and act accordingly,” Rauner spokesman Mike Schrimpf said Friday.

The article concludes:

On Friday, Quinn was asked by the AP whether he would act before leaving office. He said: “If the agencies have completed their job according to law, then they’ll issue the licenses. If they haven’t completed their job then they should continue to do that job. That’s what I’ve told them.”

Notice Quinn’s use of the word “they.”– It would appear responsibility lies entirely with the Departments, and it’s not as though the winning applications would be sitting on Quinn’s desk awaiting his stamp of approval.

Chicago cannabis industry networking event Jan 8: Women Grow

Cannabis industry visionaries and job seekers are invited to the first monthly Women Grow Networking Event in Chicago. Held Thursday, Jan. 8 from 6 to 8 pm at the Green Eye Lounge, the event is an opportunity to learn about the medical marijuana industry and connect with like-minded people.

About the event:

Women Grow Chicago cannabis networkingWomen Grow Networking Events connect aspiring and current professionals in the cannabis industry. Through monthly events, members develop authentic relationships via personal contact and networking. While the events are women focused, the networking series attracts both men and women to connect. Women Grow Networking Events occur the first Thursday of every month.

EVENT AGENDA
6:00PM Check-in and Open Networking
6:30PM All About Women Grow with Lindsay Welbers, Chicago chapter committee member
6:45PM Guest Speaker- Bradley Vallerius (Vallerius Legal & Professional Services) will discuss the status of the Illinois Medical Cannabis Pilot Program and future opportunities.
7:00PM 30-Second Introductions For All Attendees
7:15PM Open Networking
8:00PM Event concludes

Women Grow Introduction from Women Grow on Vimeo.

I’ll see you there?

As guest speaker, I plan to talk about job opportunities in the industry– not just in Illinois and the Midwest, but also nationally and internationally. I’ll also give advice about what you can do improve your chances of landing a career at a cultivation center, dispensary, or ancillary products or services provider.

Register here, … and tell a friend!

Jack Lavin, Jerry Weems want IL cannabis industry

Jack Lavin lobbied for Health Central, which applied in Mattoon, Litchfield, Troy, Collinsville, and Springfield. Lavin was part of the Neighborhood Recovery Initiative, as was Jerry Weems of Green Value Care.

Two newspaper articles are the jumping off point for this post:

  1. Better Government Association: High irony as township official pursues medical pot license
  2. Chicago Tribune: Medical marijuana applicants come with baggage

The Tribune article is premium, available only to paid subscribers. Tribune‘s price is $0.99 for four weeks of service. Considering licenses will be awarded soon, it seems reasonable to expect Tribune may publish another pertinent article.

Jerry Weems: political underling, youth services director, cannabis entrepreneur

Jerry Weems is part of cultivation center applicant Green Value Care. He is also a public official– a youth services director, to be exact.

As the Better Government Association explains it in their “High Irony” article:

In that role he oversees counseling and crisis intervention services for residents of the state’s largest township — which includes all or part of Calumet City, Dolton, Harvey and South Holland, among other towns. There are roughly 185,000 residents within the township boundaries.

[Thornton Township spokesman Melvin] Caldwell initially told the BGA that if Weems wins a medical marijuana license it wouldn’t conflict with his work at the township government — implying that he would stay on the payroll. But Thursday, a week after the BGA first contacted the township, Caldwell said Weems plans to step down from his government job should he win a marijuana license.

Also:

The Weems venture has an option to buy two separate development parcels at the Savanna Depot Park in Savanna, in northwestern Illinois. The commercial site is part of the former Savanna Army Depot property, which is in both Jo Daviess and Carroll counties.

How effective was the Neighborhood Recovery Initiative?

Weems and people close to him seem to have gained benefits from the controversial Neighborhood Recovery Initiative.

According to the Tribune:

… a Tribune investigation that found questionable expenses in a key south suburban township during an examination of Gov. Pat Quinn’s $54.5 million anti-violence program.

The findings come as the Neighborhood Recovery Initiative, the program’s official name, is under scrutiny from prosecutors. A bipartisan legislative panel is set Wednesday to discuss how much deeper it can dig into a searing state audit that ignited the growing criticism of the program as Quinn runs for re-election.

The governor has said he’s fixed problems once he found them. Republican opponent Bruce Rauner has argued that his Democratic rival used the grants as a political slush fund, which the governor denies. Still, one grant recipient told the Tribune that the program’s timing seemed geared to get out the Democratic vote.

A Tribune investigation last month focused on one aspect of the program: how Quinn’s administration chose who got the money….

As for Weems, Better Government Association says:

Also benefitting was another organization run by Thornton Township Youth Director Jerry Weems, a Zuccarelli underling and campaign contributor. Weems’ organization was paid almost $10,000 with NRI funds and Weems himself was paid additional salary with state grant money.

A separate company owned by a Weems family member was paid another $3,600 with NRI funds, according to interviews and records obtained under the Illinois Freedom of Information Act.

Jack Lavin lobbied the agency that issues licenses

As I said earlier, this Tribune article is a must-read: Medical marijuana applicants come with baggage

According to the Tribune:

Perhaps the most prominent former political figure known so far among the applicants is Jack Lavin, former chief of staff for Quinn, who signed the law allowing medical marijuana in August 2013. Lavin is a lobbyist for HealthCentral LLC in Effingham, which is proposing marijuana cultivation warehouses in downstate Mattoon, Litchfield and Troy, and dispensaries in Collinsville and Springfield, company spokesman Christopher Stone said.

This summer, a federal grand jury demanded Lavin’s emails as part of an ongoing investigation into the Neighborhood Recovery Initiative, or NRI. Prosecutors are investigating NRI’s awarding of $54 million for anti-violence programs, which Republicans have said was used to drum up votes for Quinn. The governor has denied the allegation, and no charges have been filed against Lavin or anyone else in the case.

Since Lavin left government work in September 2013 and became a lobbyist, he set up meetings with Department of Agriculture officials to discuss HealthCentral’s plans and what the state was looking for, including research and development in cultivation, packaging, transportation and pesticide use, Stone said.

Chicago Grants Two More Special Use Permits: Organic Leaf, Euflora

Chicago City Council granted special use permits to two more dispensary applicants: Organic Leaf and Euflora. Four other special use requests were continued to a later date. There are now 11 dispensary applicants and one cultivation center applicant that have been approved for special use permits in Chicago.

Request Approved

  1. Organic Leaf Medical Dispensaries (Scott Bergin, Edipure): 744 N. Damen Ave.
  2. Euflora Health Center (Jamie Perino): 4760½ N. Milwaukee Ave

Request Continued

  1. MedMar:  2843 N. Halsted.
  2. Good Earth Solutions (Jody Bhambra): 1954-68 W. Peterson Ave.
  3. Identity not reported: 3118 N. Harlem Ave.
  4. Identity not reported: 3433 N. Pulaski Rd.

Request Withdrawn

  1. Identity not reported: 211 E Grand

For more specifics see:

Euflora Health Center- Approved

DNAinfo Chicago says:

Perino told the board that the feedback she’d received from nearby businesses had been “neutral or actually very positive” and that community response had been “surprisingly supportive.”

If approved, Matt Boumaroun, the owner of the 25 Degrees restaurant on the Near North Side, will operate the dispensary, Perino said.

Kenneth Boudreau, who has spent almost 30 years in Chicago law enforcement, will be in charge of security. The dispensary will use off-duty Chicago Police officers as guards, Perino said.

Organic Leaf- Approved

DNAinfo Chicago says:

Scott Bergin, who would relocate to Chicago to run the dispensary, is also an owner of EdiPure, a business specializing in edible marijuana products and with both dispensaries and cultivation centers in Colorado, Washington state, California and Nevada. He said his products tend toward cannabidol, or CBD, rather than tetrahydrocannabiol, or THC, and don’t make patients high, although they still provide the relief patients seek.

Because of that, Bergin said, he expected the dispensary to draw clients from afar and not just locally. He estimated the business would deal with 25 to 50 patients a day and perhaps grow to as many as 200 a day.

THC is OK!

As an aside, Illinois law and regulations do not impose restrictions on licensees’ production or sale of medicines containing THC. In fact, many patients may suffer from nervous system conditions and therefore benefit more from higher ratios of THC to CBD.

See Dr. Sanjay Gupta explain the “entourage effect” in this video.

MedMar- Continued

MedMar faces local resistance. According to Chicago Sun-Times:

The deferral for a necessary special use permit granted by a city zoning board came the same day Ald. Tom Tunney (44th) said he wouldn’t support the proposed dispensary at 2843 N. Halsted.

“I have always maintained that it is important to take community concerns into consideration when making development decisions,” Tunney said. “In this case, the immediate neighbors have spoken loudly that they believe this highly residential area of Lakeview is not the right location for a medical marijuana dispensary.”

Dozens of neighbors have rallied and about 800 people have signed an online petition opposing the dispensary, which would be opened by a company called MedMar.

Good Earth Solutions- Continued

Good Earth Solutions faces local resistance. According to DNAinfo Chicago:

But some residents who live in the neighborhood felt uneasy that any business would need so much protection.

“At the end of the day, I don’t understand why this neighborhood would be open to the notion that … this is going to help build the community in the way we want to build the community,” said Laolu Fayanju, a resident and medical doctor.

Total Approved = 11 dispensaries, 1 cultivation center

Chicago’s City Council has now granted special use permits to 11 dispensary applicants and 1 cultivation center applicant.

For more background information, see these earlier articles I wrote:

Political fundraiser’s company applied, says BGA

David Rosen, a Hillary Clinton fundraiser, owns a company that is part of a cultivation center application; Rolling Meadows approves De Palma Investments’ Chicago Meds 2 dispensary; a local family physician urges residents of Highland Park to express their views; Palatine set to hear Nature’s Care dispensary special use request; and Lakeview residents try to block MedMar’s dispensary plan.

“Businessman that supports Democrats” is part of cultivation application

Better Government Association reveals that a company owned by David Rosen has submitted at least one cultivation center application:

Documents from Winnebago County show a Rosen company, Waveseer, is seeking permission from state government to obtain a medical marijuana cultivation license, so it can grow pot plants near Rockford.

Rosen was campaign finance director for Hillary Clinton’s successful New York senatorial campaign in 2000 and Pat Quinn’s first election for Illinois governor in 2010.

Rosen didn’t want to talk publicly to the BGA about his medical marijuana plans and didn’t want to say what his role might be if Hillary Clinton runs for president in 2016.

“I’m just a lay leader,” Rosen said. “I’m a businessman that supports Democrats.

See Better Government Association’s article (via Chicago Sun-Times): Ex-top Hillary Clinton fundraiser wants in on Illinois pot biz

Rolling Meadows grants special use permit to De Palma Investments dispensary

See Journal & Topics of Des Plaines article: Rolling Meadows Approves Medical Marijuana Facility, No Impact Fee

Rolling Meadows City Council members Tuesday (Dec. 9) unanimously approved an application for a special use permit to open a medical marijuana dispensing facility at 975 Rohlwing Rd.

Following the vote Paul Sorkin, representing DePalma Investments which owns the applicant, Chicago Meds 2, told the Journal & Topics they hope to have the dispensary up and running in early 2015 after applying for their state license at the end of this year.

Highland Park City Council Meeting — Monday Dec. 15

Dr. Leslie Mendoza Temple, a family physician in Highland Park, has written a letter in her local newspaper urging local residents to pressure their City Council. The City Council intends to delay handling zoning issues for dispensaries until 2015, and Dr. Mendoza Temple says failure to act this year spells certain defeat for the local dispensary.

…The Council had planned to discuss the change December 1, but officials deferred discussion until 2015. Illinois is currently reviewing applications and is scheduled to issue licenses this month. If the Council does not begin its discussion of the zoning recommendation in December, the State is likely to reject a Highland Park dispensary. This would force many of my patients who live in this area to travel further to get their medicine, and they have enough problems to deal with as it is.

If you support helping people in our community suffering from debilitating diseases, please contact Mayor Rotering and City Council members and ask them to consider the zoning amendment at its December 15 meeting.

Palatine Village Board of Trustees Meeting — Monday Dec. 15

The special use permit request of dispensary applicant Nature’s Care is on the agenda for Monday night’s meeting of the Board of Trustees in Palatine.

See Journal & Topics of Des Plaines article: Marijuana Shops Heads to Palatine Council

Councilmen Nov. 3 sent a request by petitioner Mitch Meyers of Nature’s Care LLC, who is looking to operate at 310 W. Colfax St., back to the zoning board of appeals for a rehearing.

It was sent back for rehearing because during the first plan heard by the zoning board in October, it was determined Commissioner Ted McGinn’s law firm had represented a previous petitioner looking to operate in town. To make sure the process was conducted appropriately, it was sent back.

The first vote by the zoning board in October was 5-3 in favor of the operation. The zoning board on Nov. 25 voted 4-1 in favor, a vote that didn’t include McGinn.

Additionally:

Councilmen Sept. 15 denied a proposal by Northwest Medical Distribution to operate at 400 S. Vermont St. west of S. Hicks Road and south of Northwest Highway. Since then, Northwest Medical has asked the council to reconsider their decision. The council will discuss that matter Jan. 5, 2015.

Lakeview residents petition to block Medmar dispensary

See CBS Chicago: Lakeview Residents Try to Block Proposed Marijuana Dispensary

The site is in the 2800 block of North Halsted in the Lakeview neighborhood. It could get approved in just a few days.

The listed address for MedMar Inc., the company that wants the dispensary,  is in an Edgewater high rise… MedMar officials are asking for a special-use permit for the site, something the residential group is ready to fight at the hearing next week.

DFPR regulations in Second Notice for JCAR meeting; Agriculture Department publishes rules; 98th General Assembly concludes veto session; Governor Quinn pardons a cannabis conviction.

DFPR regs on 2nd Notice– JCAR’s Dec. 16 agenda

A draft of regulations published by Department of Financial and Professional Regulation are on the agenda of JCAR’s Dec. 16 meeting.

The provisions which have yet to be approved are those which establish the scoring criteria for distinguishing the strengths of competing applicants.

Ag. Dept. publishes replacement for emergency rules 

The Department of Agriculture published in the December 5 issue of the Illinois Register a permanent set of rules to replace an earlier set of emergency rules covering the scoring criteria for cultivation centers.

As summarized in the December 5 issue of the Flinn Report:

The DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE proposed amendments to Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program (8 IAC 1000; 38 Ill Reg 22275) that make changes to the process of applying for a cannabis cultivation center license from DOA. A companion emergency rule, effective 8/8/14 for a maximum of 150 days, appeared in the Illinois Register at 38 Ill Reg 17772. The proposed amendments specify how many points of a cultivation center permit applicant’s score will be determined by each section of an application…

…The rulemaking also allows applicants who are awaiting local zoning decisions to submit verification of zoning approval no later than 60 days after submitting the remainder of their applications to DOA. Applicants for cultivation center permits and local zoning authorities are affected by this rulemaking.

Farewell to IL’s 98th Generally Assembly

Illinois’ 98th Generally Assembly, which governed in 2013 and 2014, is now adjourned for most intents and purposes. The last day of veto session for the General Assembly was December 4th.

Technically, one final day of session does remain. The session calendar for 2015 has one day of session for the 98th on the day immediately preceding inauguration of the 99th. But it’s unlikely the 98th will perform any action related to cannabis (or much else) that day.

For background about what the 98th General Assembly accomplished during the veto session and what will be inherited by the 99th General Assembly, see JournalStandard.com’s article: Illinois lawmakers sidestep several issues during veto session

The 98th Generally Assembly goes down in history as the one who enacted the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program.

Governor Quinn pardons cannabis conviction

Not only the legislative but also the executive branch of Illinois government will be replaced in 2015. Present Governor Pat Quinn recently granted executive pardon to 126 petitioners, and among them was James Loftus of Geneso, who “was convicted in 1992 and served 30 months of probation,” according to QConline.com.

According to QConline’s article, Quinn pardons Genoso man arrested for marijuana:

[Mr. Loftus]  said he went to a hearing in Chicago for the pardon about six years ago and had given up on it.

…The 311 clemency petitions acted upon recently by Gov. Quinn are part of dockets dating back to 2005. Each person granted clemency has recently undergone a criminal background check through the Illinois State Police’s Law Enforcement Agencies Data System.

A granted clemency request for a pardon with expungement allows the petitioner to seek expungement of their conviction through the court system.

Since taking office, Gov. Quinn has acted on 3,358 clemency petitions, granted 1,239 and denied 2,119.

More cases related to cannabis are pending, and Governor Quinn has time to grant more pardons.

Green Thumb Industries and another dispensary met resistance over security in Chicago’s 27th Ward; Illinois Grown Medicine explained its cultivation center plan in Colona; and jobs hiring may finally begin soon.

Mixed views in Chicago’s 27th Ward

Gazette Chicago published an article demonstrating how difficult it is to be a dispensary. (See Gazette Chicago article: Burnett supports marijuana dispensaries; community groups express opposition)

In Chicago’s 27th Ward, Alderman Walter Burnett favors dispensaries:

“I feel we have sick people in our ward and they should have access to medicine that’s going to help them,” Burnett said. Noting medical marijuana helps people with cancer, Crohn’s disease, HIV, and lupus, he added, “People living in our ward should have access—just like everywhere else.

Gazette Chicago says Burnett is nonetheless concerned about dispensaries’ security. The article says Burnett supports Edward Burke’s proposed zoning ordinance amendment which would require cultivation centers and dispensaries to have a private security contractor’s manned presence at facilities 24-7. (The ordinance is opposed by mayoral candidate Bob Fioretti as an abuse of the City’s Home Rule Authority).

Burnett introduced 2 dispensaries to local community groups

According to Gazette Chicago:

Burnett asked representatives of the two businesses applying to the City’s zoning board of appeals for permits for marijuana dispensaries at 955 W. Lake St. and 1105 W. Fulton St. to present to local community groups. Those who have heard their pitches remained unconvinced.

security dispensary marijuana

What a dispensary looks like (Sonya Yruel/Drug Policy Alliance)

Among the criticisms:

Bob Aiken, a member of the 27th Ward economic development committee representing the Neighbors of the West Loop, noted a review of the proposed Lake Street dispensary left unanswered questions—mainly about security and future planning.

While dispensaries might initially expect 15 patrons per day, in a few years that number could escalate to 70 or 80 patrons per day, and Aiken asked how officials will manage that increase along with loitering and additional business hours. His group is compiling questions and feedback for a future meeting.

The dispensary applicant on Lake St. is GTI.

The West Central Association met with Ben Kovler of Green Thumb Industries, LLC, who proposes the Lake Street dispensary at the current site of Dr. Graphx, a large format print shop. While noting his group did not support the dispensary due to organizational concerns and a location right off the elevated stop, Armando Chacon, association president, added, “It’s going to be the law of the land. Formulating a position on this is challenging.

IGM woos Colona

Illinois Grown Medicine held a meeting in Colona for the purpose of educating the community about its plan. The company is one of six who seek the cultivation center license in Illinois State Police District 7.

According to Quad-Cities Online (Medical marijuana farm could bring $367,000 to Colona):

Only one firm will receive a license in State Police District 7 that includes Henry, Rock Island, Knox and Mercer counties. IGM submitted its application in September and Paul Rosenfeld of the firm on Tuesday night said the district also has two applicants from Rock Island, two from Galesburg and one from unincorporated Knox County.


The Quad-Cities Online article doesn’t explain who performed these estimations or how they arrived at them, but:

It’s estimated Illinois will have 60,000 medical marijuana patients in 2017 and the state’s 21 cultivation centers would have gross sales of $250 million. Mr. Rosenfeld said Illinois’ program is a four-year pilot project that won’t be renewed if done wrong.

Also:

IGM’s proposed Colona center projects $14.7 million in annual revenue in 2017. Under an agreement with city officials, Colona’s share would be $367,000 annually, composed of 1.5 percent of gross sales as well as 1 percent for city infrastructure fees.

As for the design of Illinois Grown Medicine’s proposed cultivation center:

Mr. Rosenfeld said the proposed $25 million Colona facility would be 100,000 square feet with a possible greenhouse expansion of similar size in the future. The industry norm is two to three harvests per year, he said, but IGM’s expert recommend smaller, bushier plants that could yield five harvests per year.

IGM says it has assistance from companies in Canada and California:

Mr. Rosenfeld said all of IGM’s investors are from Illinois, but the firm is using cultivation experts from Sonoma, Calif., and has a strategic partnership with CCC, a Canadian firm, because Canada has a federal medical cannabis program.

Jobs Creation is next for Pilot Program

Licenses are about to be awarded, which means Illinois can finally start realizing the economic benefits of legalizing the market. Builders and other contractors will start right away preparing cultivation centers and dispensaries for operation. Meanwhile the management teams of licensees can finally start reviewing the credentials of Illinois’ strong workforce.

VALLERIUS GROUP PROVIDES SPECIALIZED RECRUITING

Vallerius Group understands the employment needs of cultivation centers and dispensaries. Our service is tailored for the rare and unique circumstances of the Pilot Program.

Licensees: Call Bradley Vallerius to learn how we can help you. 480-382-5537

Prospective employees: Please see our information and send us your resume.

Des Plains enacts $15,000 annual impact fee for dispensaries

Chicago’s ZBA will hear a special use request for a dispensary in Andersonville; Des Plaines enacts an ordinance applying a $15,000 annual impact fee on dispensaries.

Andersonville dispensary application, 5000 N Clark

The Cannabis Group LLC seeks a special use permit from Chicago’s Zoning Board of Appeals to operate a dispensary at 5001-03 N, Clark St, according to DNAinfo Chicago.

See DNAinfo Chicago‘s article: Group Seeks to Open Medical Marijuana Clinic at Former Pie Hole Pizza Spot 

The Cannabis Group’s application is on the board’s agenda for its January 16 meeting.

…Poole encouraged members of the community to voice their opinions through the Zoning Board of Appeals pending any specific neighborhood meetings.

Chicago’s Zoning Board of Appeals has already approved a total of nine dispensary applicants plus one cultivation center for special use permits. For background, see an article I wrote last week: Chicago gives six more special use permits for dispensary

Des Plaines gives conditional use permit to Prime Wellness dispensary

Des Plaines City Council voted unanimously to grant a conditional use permit to Prime Wellness of Illinois.

According to Chicago Tribune: Des Plaines OKs medical marijuana dispensary:

The council was poised to approve the permit at its last meeting in November, but several aldermen halted the process so city officials could consider additional fees they may want to impose upon this and any future medical marijuana dispensary in Des Plaines.

So in addition to granting a conditional use permit to Prime Wellness, City Council also unanimously voted to enact an ordinance that imposes a $15,000 annual impact fee on dispensaries.

If a medical marijuana dispensary were allowed to open in the city, the police department estimates that the cost of increased monitoring, patrol and law enforcement would likely total $15,000 per year, according to a memo from community and economic development director George Sakas to city manager Michael Bartholomew.

Following city staff members’ recommendation, the council unanimously approved an ordinance that would impose a $15,000 annual fee on any medical marijuana dispensary within the city.

…Sakas said that city employees had spoken with representatives from Prime Wellness of Illinois and that the company had agreed to pay the impact fee.

Elk Grove Village and Schaumburg are also considering impact fees for dispensaries. Schaumburg is reportedly thinking $100,000 may be appropriate. For background, see an article I wrote last week: Impact fees for dispensaries in Des Plaines, Schaumburg, Elk Grove?

Peoria cannabis special use ordinance considered

Peoria City Council marks up a proposed zoning ordinance; a physician is fined for offering pre-approval to prospective patients; and Good Intentions prepares a float for Chicago’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Peoria, IL cannabis zoning ordinance

Peoria (Wikipedia Commons, KevinMay.com)

Peoria deliberates new zoning ordinance

Peoria is deliberating whether to enact a zoning ordinance for cultivation centers and dispensaries. A proposed ordinance for cannabis businesses was marked up at a City Council meeting on Nov. 25, and the issue may be taken up again at the City Council’s next meeting.

According to an article in CentralIllinoisProud.com: Zoning Regulations May Change for Medical Marijuana Businesses:

The requested ordinance would now require dispensaries and cultivation centers to get special use zoning approval. Two dispensaries and one cultivation center have previously been approved without this requirement.

The city’s attorney said that once this ordinance is drafted, he doesn’t believe it could be retroactively applied to those already given the green light. Councilman at-large Chuck Grayeb was one of the council members that said they aren’t comfortable with those businesses being immune to any new ordinance created.

“I just dislike the whole process,” Grayeb admitted, “It leaves a bad taste in my mouth the way that this has been handled.”

Illinois physician fined for offering “pre-approval” to patients

According to Associated Press: CHICAGO: Illinois doctor fined over medical marijuana slip

Authorities put Dr. Brian Murray on probation for two years and fined him $10,000. A phone message left for Murray’s attorney Wednesday wasn’t immediately returned.

Tammy Jacobi is CEO of Good Intentions Medical Marijuana Services, where Murray once worked. She said Wednesday the business is referring patients to other doctors now.

Illinois law requires a doctor’s certification before a patient can use marijuana. The law requires a bona fide doctor-patient relationship, including an exam. Doctors can’t accept payments for the certification itself.

Chicago Health Online article explains some background on Dr. Murray and Good Intentions: Marijuana Medical Clinic is Good for Business While Helping Patients Find Relief

Good Intentions float in Thanksgiving Parade

Good Intentions has a float in McDonald’s State Street Thanksgiving Day Parade in Chicago this week.

According to DNAinfo Chicago: Medical Marijuana Float to Debut in Thanksgiving Day Parade:

The float will feature “a garden of flowers in bloom,” including onion grass and flowers beneath a 12-foot-long banner that reads “Growing With Illinois.”

…”Just as plants grow and flower, the company has blossomed into an organization that provides hope for the most seriously ill citizens of Illinois,” said Good Intentions owner Tammy Jacobi.

Passengers on the float will toss out bead necklaces, toy turkeys on parachutes, candy footballs and coins to the crowd.

On its website, Good Intentions promotes a $159 Comprehensive Service Plan for Illinois Medical Marijuana Patient Candidates.

Chicago gives six more special use permits for dispensary

Chicago’s Zoning Board of Appeals awarded six more special use permits to dispensaries. The Board also awarded its first special use permit for a cultivation center. Meanwhile Edward Burke says his security ordinance is not dead and there is enough city council support to pass it.

Most of the following information is clipped from a Chicago Tribune article: Panel approves 6 more marijuana dispensaries, denies 1 for Wicker Park

Illinois dispensary display counters

Dispensary display cases. Photo by Sonya Yruel/Drug Policy Alliance

Six dispensaries get special use permits

The Zoning Board of Appeals made a decision to approve the requests of six dispensary groups for a special use permit. The Board denied one dispensary group’s request and postponed making a decision on six other requests. The Board had already approved three other dispensary groups at a previous meeting.

Chicago Tribune gives this information about the six recipients of special use permits:

1.– Perry Mandera, owner of a Near North Side strip club called VIP’s, A Gentleman’s Club, got the go-ahead for a permit to operate a cannabis dispensary in the meatpacking area of the West Town neighborhood, at 1105 W. Fulton Market.

2. and  3.– Ald. Ed Burke had asked at a previous meeting that a proposed dispensary in his 14th Ward, at 4568-70 S. Archer Ave., be deferred as he pushed for tougher security measures, including 24-hour security guards at all Chicago dispensaries. On Friday, Burke threw his support behind the application for that business and one at 5648 S. Archer Ave. The Zoning Board approved permits for both.

4.– 44758 N. Milwaukee Ave., where a group that also has licenses to sell marijuana in Massachusetts, Washington, D.C., Nevada and Arizona wants to set up shop along a commercial strip near the Jefferson Park bungalow belt.

5.– In a strip mall at 2723 N. Elston Ave., just south of a six-way intersection with Western and Diversey avenues, where applicants said they would also likely sell books, candles and other “complementary” products.

6.– 500 W. 18th St., east of the Dan Ryan Expressway between the Pilsen and South Loop neighborhoods.

One dispensary request denied

It appears the Board is examining the merits of each request individually. One group failed to meet the Board’s standards, and the Board articulated a justification for denying a permit.

The board denied the application for a proposed dispensary at 1811 W. North Ave., near the heart of the Wicker Park neighborhood. Board members expressed concern about CEO Tami Marron’s plan to allow people who had not qualified to receive medical marijuana into the business for consultations.

And they questioned her about the fact her company had not yet reached an agreement with a bank to accept the large cash deposits from the depository.

City spokesman Pete Strazzabosco said the board cited an “interior configuration issue that would have an adverse impact on the public way and patient environment” in denying the North Avenue application.

One cultivation center gets special use permit

The Chicago Tribune article says only:

In addition, the Zoning Board heard its first plan for a marijuana-growing facility, approving an application at 12233 S. Avenue O near the Hegewisch neighborhood on the Far Southeast Side.

Decision postponed on six dispensary requests

The Board passed on making a decision on six other dispensary requests for special use permits, generally so that more information could be obtained.

Burke still wants to pass his security ordinance

Yesterday I wrote that mayoral candidate Bob Fioretti had “killed” Edward Burke’s proposed security ordinance. Burke says the ordinance is actually alive and well, and he thinks he can pass it. Burke says he has a separate Legal Opinion stating that the ordinance does not overstep City of Chicago’s Home Rule authority.

Lawyers can have different opinions, and my attorneys tell me we’re on very solid ground with this,” Burke said. “And I believe a majority of members of the City Council will support it as well.”

Incidentally, do you know what’s worse than hiring an attorney?

…NOT hiring one, of course!

Home-Rule Concerns Kill Chicago Zoning Ordinance

Mayoral candidate Bob Fioretti has killed an ordinance that would have required cultivation centers and dispensaries in Chicago to use 24-7 services from a private security contractor. First he stunned it with a “parliamentary maneuver.” Then he finished it by dropping a devastating Opinion from the City’s legal department citing home-rule authority concerns.

Chicago Sun-Times’ Early & Often covers the excitement in an article titled: “City Council shelves security crackdown for medical pot”

“The real question here is, why didn’t the Law Department come forward when they knew they had an opinion? Why are they hiding certain information? Who are they protecting? Typical of this administration. They hide documents. They keep hiding things from the City Council,” Fioretti said.

“Safety is paramount in everything we do. But, under compassionate use of marijuana laws, the [Illinois] Departments of Finance and Professional Regulation and Agriculture have promulgated regulations on security and the transportation of marijuana. Our ordinance runs afoul of it. We cannot regulate them. Somebody should have come forward and been open with us that there were questions as to the legality of the ordinance.”

City of Chicago Law Dept. Opinion: Ordinance violates Home-Rule authority

As for the substance of the Legal Department’s Opinion:

It concludes that state law already outlines security and transportation measures that marijuana dispensaries and cultivation centers must follow and  that “no local municipality shall impose” restrictions that go beyond those terms.

“The requirements set forth in the proposed ordinance would not be in the city authority to enact,” the opinion states.

“The proposed ordinance attempts to regulate in subject matters that IDPR has already issued regulations for…Thus, the proposed ordinance runs afoul of the home rule pre-emptions and the city cannot regulate these entities in this manner through the special-use permit.”

We’ve been covering the ordinance’s progress. You can read about it here:

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Revised Chicago Dispensary Ordinance Removes Loading Provision

A proposed ordinance in Chicago passed the City’s Committee on Zoning, Landmarks, and Building Standards on Nov. 13. A provision requiring that unloading of medicine take place in an area not visible to the public has been removed, but the ordinance still requires cultivation centers and dispensaries to engage the services of a private security contractor to maintain a 24-7 presence at facilities. Also surviving is a provision requiring that medicine and paraphernalia not be visible from outside a dispensary.

Chicago Sun Times says Finance Committee Chairman Edward Burke and Zoning Committee Chairman Danny Solis removed the loading provision “amid concern that it would create an “undue burden” for the fledgling medical marijuana industry.”

At the time I published this article, the revised ordinance and minutes of the Zoning Committee’s meeting had not been uploaded to the City’s website. The revised version of the ordinance should eventually appear here: Legislative history of Ordinance 02014-8106: Amendment of Municipal Code Section 17-9-0129 regarding medical cannabis dispensing organizations and cultivation centers

An earlier article I wrote upon the introduction of the ordinance is available here: Chicago Zoning Amendment Wants 24-hour Private Security Contractor

Dangers of a Cash-only Business

According to the Sun Times article:

On Thursday, Burke portrayed medical marijuana as an “all-cash” business that poses “unique and serious safety concerns.” That’s because, since marijuana remains illegal under federal law, federally regulated financial institutions “generally do not provide banking services” to marijuana-related businesses, he said.

The alderman noted that there were 317 burglaries and seven robberies reported at Denver’s 700 licensed marijuana stores and cultivation centers over the last two years and that similar facilities in California have been the scene of “at least three fatal shootings.”

Then, he told a harrowing story of violence in California that must have scared his colleagues half to death….

You’ll have to read the Sun Times article for details about Burke’s story. I don’t want to repeat it.

“I’m not making this up, ladies and gentlemen. This is what’s going on in [California and] Colorado. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to enact a provision in our municipal code to maintain reasonable amounts of private security at locations where this product is gonna be sold and distributed,” he said.

The proposed zoning ordinance is not yet effective. It still must obtain approval from Chicago City Council.

A proposed zoning ordinance in Chicago would require dispensaries and cultivation centers to use an independent security contractor as a condition of the City’s special use permit for medical cannabis. The ordinance would also require marijuana businesses to conduct loading and unloading of cannabis product shipments in a secure area outside of public view.

Click to view the proposed ordinance: Amendment of Municipal Code Section 17-9-0129 regarding medical cannabis dispensing organizations and and cultivation centers.

Chicago Tribune: Round-the-clock security wanted for Chicago medical marijuana shops

Chicago Sun Times: Aldermen demand security and loading controls for medical pot

24-hour Private Security Protection

The proposed ordinance states:

Medical cannabis dispensing organizations and cultivation centers shall be required to maintain the services of an Illinois licensed private security contractor and maintain a private security contractor presence at their facilities 24 hours per day and 7 days per week.

The transportation, loading, and unloading of any cannabis or cannabis-infused products shall be conducted under the supervision of an Illinois licensed private security contractor.

Unloading Outside of Public View

The proposed ordinance states:

The loading and unloading of any cannabis or cannabis infused products at medical cannabis dispensing organizations shall take place in a secure loading area and shall not be visible to the general public.  

Medical cannabis dispensing organizations shall not be maintained or operated in a manner that creates or allows the public viewing of cannabis, cannabis infused products, cannabis paraphernalia, or similar products from any sidewalk, or public or private right-of-way.