Drive-thru windows allowed for Naperville pot clinics

Medical marijuana dispensaries looking to open in Naperville will be allowed to do so in some retail areas and can have drive-thru windows. The Naperville City Council approved regulations for the dispensaries and cultivation centers before the drug officially becomes legal for medical purposes Jan. 1. Cities are not allowed to prohibit such facilities entirely, but they can impose more stringent zoning regulations than the state, which has rules about their proximity to homes and schools.

Naperville council members agreed to limit cultivation facilities to industrial areas and require owners to go through a hearing process. Dispensing facilities will be able to open in industrial areas without a hearing. They also will be allowed in some retail areas outside downtown, but a hearing will be needed. The city also has added a provision keeping such facilities at least 250 feet from residential areas. The council debated whether to limit the amount of retail sales a dispensary could have.

“These facilities, what they sell other than medical marijuana oftentimes are health-related, natural, organic types of products … and I just don’t know that … we want to be in the business of restricting it,” Councilman Steve Chirico said. Others said they feared drawing people who weren’t using marijuana legally. However, after a city attorney said the state law only allows the marijuana and accessories for using it to be sold to qualifying patients and their caregivers, councilmen agreed to drop the retail sales restriction.

Some council members also previously expressed concerns about allowing drive-thru facilities at dispensaries, but ultimately they decided to allow them. “There’s people that will have certain issues that will make it difficult for them to get out and walk in,” Councilman Paul Hinterlong said. The City Council voted 8-0 on the new rules. Councilman Joe McElroy was absent. Just how many medical marijuana facilities will attempt to open in Naperville remains to be seen. State law allows no more than 22 cultivation centers and 60 dispensing centers statewide.

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