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Medical Marijuana Sites May Pop Up by 2015

Updated: Wednesday, June 18 2014, 11:20 AM CDT

CENTRAL ILLINOIS COUNTIES --  By the start of next year, we may see medical marijuana growing sites and dispensaries in Illinois.

Under the pilot program's drafted rules, there will be 21 cultivation centers in the state; one for each Illinois State Police district. Up to 60 dispensaries statewide are allowed; population will determine how many can be in each state police district.

"A committee will review applications for dispensaries, within the Financial and Professional Regulations... they will review applications and make sure [applicants are] meeting all qualifications, then make a final determination," said Melaney Arnold, a spokesperson for the medical cannabis program.

That application process is expected to start in September. If developers act quickly, we may see medical marijuana businesses by 2015.

Before that process can begin, the rules have to be adopted. Right now, the state Department of Public Health is reviewing public comments and will suggest changes to the drafted rules. The state's Joint Committee on Administrative Rules, JCAR, has the final say.

Although the law hasn't been implemented, some companies are already talking to communities about growing and dispersing the drug.

In Decatur, the city council has unanimously approved changes to its zoning ordinance to allow medical marijuana operations in areas zoned heavy commercial and light industrial districts.

City manager Ryan McCrady said, "We think it's important to be proactive in getting the ordinance read just in case someone looks to develop a site."

In other central Illinois communities, there has been talk about medical marijuana facilities spurring jobs. At least one local law enforcement official is hoping it doesn't happen.

Christian county Sheriff Bruce Kettelkamp said, "I'm all for jobs in Christian county but I'm against jobs that send our youth the wrong message by telling them marijuana is okay for them to use and I feel like that's what's going to happen if we have a business located in Christian county that's growing marijuana legally."

It's important to remind you it's still illegal to grow, offer to provide, or to possess medical marijuana until licenses have been issued and the program is up and running.

Officials suggest you talk to your doctor if you're interested in being prescribed medical pot. Any potential developers are encouraged to review the proposed rules even though they aren't final yet.

Medical Marijuana Sites May Pop Up by 2015

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