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Local

St. Charles aldermen to discuss allowing Zen Leaf to sell recreational marijuana

St. Charles City Council's Planning and Development Committee will meet Monday

The St. Charles City Council's Planning and Development Committee on Monday will begin discussing whether Zen Leaf should be able to sell recreational marijuana along with medical marijuana at its dispensary at 3714 Illinois Ave.
The St. Charles City Council's Planning and Development Committee on Monday will begin discussing whether Zen Leaf should be able to sell recreational marijuana along with medical marijuana at its dispensary at 3714 Illinois Ave.

ST. CHARLES – The St. Charles City Council's Planning and Development Committee on Monday will begin discussing whether Zen Leaf should be able to sell recreational marijuana along with medical marijuana at its dispensary at 3714 Illinois Ave.

In December, plan commissioners voted 5-4 to recommend to the St. Charles City Council that recreational marijuana dispensaries be added as a special use in the M-2 limited manufacturing district. They also voted 5-4 to recommend to the City Council that Healthway Services of West Illinois, LLC. – which operates Zen Leaf – be given special use approval to operate a recreational marijuana dispensary at its current location.

Zen Leaf is currently the city's only medical marijuana dispensary and has been in operation since 2015 at its current location. Plan commissioners are requiring that Zen Leaf upgrade its parking lot lighting. In addition, Zen Leaf needs to install additional security cameras to monitor the parking lot and post additional signage regarding prohibition of on-site consumption.

Zen Leaf representative Anthony Marsico said Zen Leaf would be happy to comply with those conditions.

The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation has given Zen Leaf a license to operate a recreational marijuana dispensary. Plan Commission Vice Chairman Tim Kessler said the M-2 district is well-suited for the proposed recreational marijuana dispensary.

"There are 14 permitted uses in the M-2 district that have nothing to do with manufacturing," Kessler said. "There's six special uses that are not under the manufacturing umbrella as well."

That includes day care centers and animal hospitals, he said.

Plan commissioner Jeffrey Funke disagreed.

"We're setting a precedent here," he said. "Why aren't we protecting our businesses and creating retail spaces that are actually complementary to other businesses, say Giordano's, which has two spaces right next to it that are vacant."

Aldermen recently voted 6-3 to allow recreational marijuana dispensaries to locate in the city. As part of the city's rules, two recreational marijuana dispensaries could be located in the city – one on the east side and one on the west side of the Fox River.

In addition, one of the dispensaries must have a minimum of one year's experience operating a medical marijuana dispensary in St. Charles. The second dispensary must have a minimum of one year's experience operating a medical marijuana dispensary within the state of Illinois, but not necessarily in St. Charles.

On-premise consumption lounges and all other types of recreational marijuana uses are not permitted. The state is allowing Illinois residents 21 and older to possess up to 30 grams of marijuana per Illinois resident. Residents also will be able to possess 5 grams of cannabis concentrate and up to 500 milligrams of THC – the main psychoactive compound in marijuana that gives the high sensation – contained in a cannabis-infused product. Nonresidents can possess half those amounts.

Registered medical marijuana patients will be allowed to grow up to five cannabis plants in their home and possess more than 30 grams of cannabis if it is grown and secured in their residence under certain conditions.

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