Chicago would become the only city in the state allowed to write its own rules on where medical marijuana dispensaries and cultivation centers could set up shop under legislation the Illinois Senate passed on Thursday.
Sponsoring Sen. Kwame Raoul said the change was needed because current restrictions, which say grow centers cannot be within 2,500 feet from homes and schools and dispensaries cannot be within 1,000 feet of those buildings, make it practically impossible for them to locate within city limits due to Chicago’s density.
The proposal was approved 31-18 and now goes to the House. Opponents argued city officials should not be given so much leeway, pointing to a history of corruption and botched deals.
“You’ve got the state completely eliminating any regulations and saying the city of Chicago can do anything it wants, and there has been a history in the city of Chicago of insider deals,” said Sen. Matt Murphy, R-Palatine. “Are we comfortable here as a state giving them the authority to say ‘well, I’m an alderman and my friend wants to put this marijuana dispensary next to a school because he can get a great deal?’”
That response is almost pure hyperbole. The new locations would still have to be approved by the state.
And, really, can you imagine trying to trying to find a place in Chicago that’s at least a half a mile in all directions from a house?
* Meanwhile, the Chicago Tribune is rightly impatient about the progress of the fracking regulatory process…
Even by Springfield’s standards, this rule-making — the process of turning a law into precise restrictions and permissions — is unusually slow. Mind you, when the rules are finally completed, they have to go back to a legislative committee for a final sign-off.
“It’s important we follow the rules because we don’t want to do something that would invalidate the law in the future,” Natural Resources Department Director Marc Miller told us. “We’re going to do it right. We’re going to do it one time and get it done before the deadline in November.”
Getting it as close to right is, of course, important. Fracking is a controversial process that has to be done carefully to mitigate environmental risks. One reason the rule-making process is taking so long is that environmental groups have flooded DNR with comments and questions. The agency is obligated to respond to them all and finish up the rules by Nov. 15.
Ah, could that be the reason for delay? To push off a controversial decision until after the general election on Nov. 4?
Gov. Pat Quinn was very pro-jobs when he signed this bill, but now that the campaign has started he’s Mr. Green.
* Advocates say new marijuana rules will hurt the poor
* Taxicab industry forms PAC to fight rideshare, swing elections
* Here comes the sun: Rooftop solar panels in Illinois get jump-start: The bill, supported both by environmental groups and by the state’s largest power generator, Chicago-based Exelon Corp., is a fallback alternative to an overhaul of Illinois’ clean energy law, which environmentalists say is broken because of changes in the state’s power market that have made it next to impossible to finance new renewable energy projects. That broader effort died earlier this month.
* Chicago unemployment plunges to 7.4 percent
* Push for tax on sugary beverages renewed - A once-dormant plan to impose a one-cent-per-ounce tax on sugary beverages has been revived in the Illinois House.
* Tunney opposes Ricketts revamp on Wrigley
* Home sales down as buyers have less to choose from