County meets to discuss medical marijuana


County meets to discuss medical marijuana

By Lindsey Salvatelli

DeKalb — The DeKalb City Council will consider a zoning petition to accommodate Justice Grown, a marijuana dispensary out of Effingham, during a Monday meeting.

On Feb. 4, a public notice invited community members to attend and submit written comments for the organization’s public hearing during a zoning committee meeting 6 p.m. Wednesday at the DeKalb Municipal Building, 200 S. Fourth St., according to the Public Notice Illinois webpage.

“Justice Grown is dedicated to researching, cultivating and distributing high-quality cannabis to patients in need of healthier alternatives to personal wellness,” according to Justice Grown’s mission statement.

Justice Grown, which is represented by Jamil Taylor, vice president of business development, is seeking a zoning change in DeKalb for the placement of the organization’s medical cannabis dispensary in the multi-tenant Aspen Ridge Business Park, 650 Peace Road, according to the Feb. 4 notice.

The planning and zoning committee unanimously passed the petition to allow rezoning.

Ashley Peterson, CEO of Justice Grown’s Effingham cultivation site, and Taylor spoke to community members about Justice Grown’s approach to its ideal position in the community during the zoning committee meeting which included sponsoring a police officer and teaming up with NIU to conduct research.

“We were founded in 2014 by two of the most well-known social justice attorneys in the Midwest: Jon Loevy and Michael Kanovitz,” Taylor said.

Taylor said the DeKalb facility would meet his business’s security features because of a port that would allow vehicles to drive into the facility for product delivery and offer them security when providing delivery services.

“Security is huge for us; making sure our patrons are safe, our patients, our employees and obviously our product,” Taylor said.

While some of the security features are standards set by the state, the site’s security will exceed those requirements.

“We’re spending over $120,000 on security alone, so this is going to be a safe place,” Taylor said. “I like to think it’s safer than a bank.”

The company intends to keep a security guard at the facility during hours of operations to provide safety to the business and assist patients to their vehicles, if requested.

There are currently 51 licensed marijuana dispensaries in Illinois, according to the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation.

The Compassionate Use Of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act was enacted Jan. 1, 2014, to protect patients with serious medical conditions and their physicians from criminal penalties if the patients engage in the medical use of cannabis, according to the act.

The Act permits 60 dispensing organizations to operate in Illinois. The amount of dispensaries allowed within a district is “based on patient populations, geography, zoning, location or other reasonable criteria,” according to the Department of Financial and Professional Regulation’s Joint Committee on Administrative Rules.

Under the committee’s rules, DeKalb County may allow one dispensary.

Medical marijuana first reached state legislation during California’s 1996 Proposition 215, according to an April 20 Time Magazine article. Since then, 28 states have passed comprehensive medical marijuana laws, according to a Nov. 10 Time Magazine article.

All of the public comments made supported the establishment of a medical cannabis facility in DeKalb.

“I was very skeptical about this,” Chair Christina Atherton said. “This is my backyard basically, so this frightened me a little. I’m honest about this. I can comfortably go home tonight knowing what [Justice Grown representatives] presented tonight.”