Council makes changes to reflect state law

By Lark Lewis

City Council looked at what role DeKalb will play in the state’s recently enacted medical marijuana and concealed carry laws at its meeting Monday.

DeKalb has ordinances that prohibit the use of guns and the possession of drug paraphernalia and weed, creating a need to amend these ordinances to line up with the changed state laws. City Council voted to amend Ordinance 14-01 in order to allow the use of medical marijuana and carry concealed guns in DeKalb to follow new Illinois laws.

“We are more or less compelled to do what the state has adopted,” said city attorney Dean Frieders. “Both of these statutes preempt home rule.”

People who wish to carry a concealed weapon must complete 16 hours of gun training and obtain a state-issued permit. Not all places in DeKalb welcome the rule.

“There is a laundry list of venues that are prohibited for concealed carry, including municipal buildings,” Frieders said.

The list of prohibited venues can sometimes be confusing or conflicting, Frieders said, and he advised citizens choosing to partake in concealed carry exercise great diligence.

Discussion of the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis law took up the majority of the time given toward the amendments to the ordinance. Illinois joined 19 other states in legalizing but regulating weed for medical purposes.

Medical marijuana must be distributed from a state-authorized dispensary, whenever the medical cannabis is transported it must be in a sealed tamper-evident medical container and when the marijuana is consumed it must be within the confines of a person’s home and not in the presence of minors.

Third ward alderman Kristen Lash raised concerns about the advertising that could come with the changes. Because using weed is still illegal on a national scale, Frieders said almost all pharmacies refuse to partake in the distribution of medical marijuana, which leaves independent dispensaries to do the job.

“Signage, advertising … on local TV or local radio talking about buying medical cannabis, how would that fit into the ordinance, if at all?” Lash said.

The council agreed to gather more information on how advertising and the placement of dispensaries could be regulated. After obtaining that information, they will go forward with a new zoning regulation and/or ordinance.

“The police department will have the option of either charging an offense as a violation of the state law or as a violation of local ordinance depending on the severity and the officer’s judgment,” Frieders said.

Possible crimes include people fabricating concealed carry permits and medical marijuana cards.

DeKalb Police Chief Gene Lowery is ready to prep his department for the changes.

“As far as training goes, we are going to orient ourselves with the state law and city ordinances,” Lowery said. “We want to be on the same page and make changes as the laws evolve.”