Paul Sassone: Medical marijuana puts Oak Park in a bind

<p>Paul Sassone</p>

Paul Sassone

Is it a medicine?

Is it a drug?

It doesn’t seem that the state can make up its mind.

On Jan. 1, medical marijuana was legalized in Illinois. But the law prohibits the sale of medical marijuana in residential areas, or within 1,000 feet of a school, a child-care center or other facility serving children.

Further, the state decrees that medical marijuana cannot be grown within 2,500 feet a school, group day care home, day care center or a residential district.

These restrictions pose a problem for Oak Park officials.

As Village Planner Craig Failor said at the Jan. 13 village board meeting, all property in Oak Park is within 2,500 feet of a residential district. And by limiting sale of medical marijuana to nonresidential areas and not within 1,000 feet of schools, child care centers and other facilities serving children, there is hardly a spot in Oak Park at which a medical marijuana sales business can be set up.

Yet, the state forbids municipalities from keeping such establishments out of town.

Thus, Oak Park and other Illinois municipalities have to solve the state-mandated paradox of allowing the sale of medical marijuana while the state has made doing that almost unsolvable by the many location restrictions it imposes.

Why are such restrictions even needed?

Since the state has made the sale of medical marijuana legal, it de facto has recognized that marijuana has medical benefits.

The state as of Jan. 1 has said that for some ill people, under some conditions marijuana is medicine.

So, of what is the state of Illinois afraid?

Do state officials think cancer and glaucoma patients will buy medical marijuana to treat their illnesses and then run amok and molest children?

If medical marijuana facilities can’t be near residences, schools, etc., shouldn’t those same restrictions apply to pharmacies and even doctors’ offices?

After all, there are drugs aplenty at pharmacies. Couldn’t someone legally obtain a dangerous drug at a pharmacy and then run amok?

Silly idea, of course.

And maybe some of the state restrictions are silly, also.

It will be interesting to see how Oak Park officials solve this puzzle the state has bequeathed them.

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