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Not Blowing Smoke

  • Written by Bob Rakow

Attorney serious about bringing marijuana dispensary to Ridge

Steve Weisman has a map of Chicago Ridge with lots of circles drawn on it.
The circles represent the geographic areas in the village where Weisman and his investment group cannot locate the medical marijuana dispensary they hope to locate in the village.
That’s because somewhere within all of the circles is a school, daycare center, park or recreation facility. State law and village zoning ordinances prohibit medical marijuana dispensaries from being located within 1,000 feet of those facilities.
That leaves Weisman with few options, but he remains optimistic and is considering two locations—one on Harlem Avenue, the other in a strip mall on Southwest Highway, he told trustees at Tuesday’s village board meeting.
Illinois is expected to begin taking applications for 60 medical marijuana businesses in September. Those who want to apply must have “an application pinned down,” said Weisman, an attorney for Kirkland and Ellis.
Weisman’s group plans to submit five applications. They decided to include Chicago Ridge as a potential location when they learned village officials were not opposed to the idea, he said.
Other communities in the area made it clear they were not interested in adding a medical marijuana dispensary to their business community, he said.
“We don’t want to go where we’re not wanted,” he said. “We want to be very active in the community in positive ways.”
Village officials on Tuesday expressed few reservations about having a dispensary in town.
“We couldn’t say ‘no’ because we don’t like the idea,” Mayor Chuck Tokar said.
“I think we’re going to have to nail down what is our incentive,” Trustee John Lind said.
Weisman stressed that the clinics would be heavily regulated by the state, including implementation of a security plan and dispensing medical marijuana only to approved clients.
Clients must possess a state ID card to purchase marijuana and can only obtain 2.5 ounces every two weeks, Weisman said.
“The state’s requirements are incredibility rigorous,” he said. “This is truly medicine. This is a business.”
In other business at Tuesday’s meeting, firefighters Bob Eggert and Jim Calomino were promoted to lieutenant.
The promotions come a few weeks after the board rejected a proposal to eliminate the two lieutenant positions from the village budget.
Eggert and Calomino were sworn in by Village Clerk George Schleyer before having their badges pinned on their uniforms by their wives. Both Eggert and Calomino are 20-year veterans of the department.
Additionally, Tokar appointed Rich Blackwell as the village’s new licensing officer.
“It’s something that we need,” Tokar said, adding that the position is needed to make sure businesses are complying with licensing regulations. “I think he’s got the right personality to deal with businesses.”
Blackwell is a long-time village resident who is active in the Chamber of Commerce and other village initiatives.