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Aldermen Want More Control Over Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Some Chicago City Council members said they're worried about where newly-legalized medical marijuana would be made available in the city, and how much control aldermen will have over dispensaries and grow sites.

WBBM Newsradio Political Editor Craig Dellimore reports the state law prohibits medical marijuana cultivation centers from operating within 2,500 feet of schools, childcare centers, or residential areas.

Dispensaries must be at least 1,000 feet from schools and daycare centers, and may not operate in residential buildings or areas zoned for residential use.

Aldermen Want More Oversight Of Medical Marijuana

However, Ald. Edward Burke (14th) and other members of the City Council have expressed concerns about limits on their oversight, claiming they're prohibited from setting other restrictions on dispensaries and cultivation centers.

"The elected representatives of 2.9 million people of the state of Illinois ought to have something to say," Burke said. "The role of local government is – to put it mildly – limited in an extreme degree."

One pharmacist who plans to open a medical marijuana dispensary noted the existing restrictions already limit dispensaries mostly to areas zoned for manufacturing.

She said it's not in the best interests of people with serious illnesses to be forced to go to the outskirts of the city to purchase medical marijuana prescribed by their doctor.

Ald. Brendan Reilly (42nd), who represents the downtown area, shared those concerns.

"If people are being prescribed these products by their doctors, will there be any burden in patients actually accessing those medicines, or do they have to drive to the edge of the city?" he said.

Some aldermen want dispensaries to be allowed in medical districts, which are more common near residential areas.

Under the state's medical marijuana law, only patients diagnosed with specified debilitating illnesses could obtain and use marijuana to alleviate their pain.

Conditions that would qualify a person to get medical marijuana would include cancer, multiple sclerosis, HIV/AIDS, glaucoma, Alzheimer's disease, Crohn's disease, muscular dystrophy, severe fibromyalgia, spinal cord disease, and more.

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