Medical cannabis petitioners present plans

Jeanette Brickner
jkendall@timestoday.com
Kelly Ramirez and Dr. Ray Ramirez of Lakeview Veterinary Clinic at 1122 N. Main St., voiced their opposition to a medical marijuana dispensary near their business.

The East Peoria Zoning Board of Appeals heard from three petitioners Sept. 8 who were interested in a special use to open medical cannabis dispensaries in East Peoria.

During the two-hour meeting, the first petitioner, Carrie Hass of Costigan & Wollrab, a law firm, took one-and-a-half hours to discuss the plans for her client.

Hass represented Central Illinois Wellness Holdings LLC, a group that wants to open a cannabis dispensary at 1050-1090 N. Main St. across from the Par-A-Dice. Originally, one of the seven names associated with CIW Holdings LLC was Dr. Joseph Banno, a urologist in Peoria. Banno’s name has since been removed because the Department of Financial and Professional Regulation amended the rules and a physician cannot have even a passive interest in a medical marijuana cultivation center or a dispensary. One of the six names now applying for the special use is Joe Banno, Dr. Joseph Banno’s son.

The other two petitioners were Clayton Moushon, an East Peoria attorney, who was speaking on behalf of Yvonne Moushon of Pleasant Valley Farms LLC, for a dispensary on Farmdale Road, and Dr. Daniel Joseph, a Peoria chiropractor, who wants to open a dispensary at 2530 E. Washington St., in the former Fiesta Ranchera spot in Fondulac Plaza.

Prior to the start of the meeting, Ty Livingston, the city’s director of community development, planning and zoning, showed two maps that displayed the areas where possible cannabis cultivation or cannabis dispensaries could be located.

About 20 people in the audience listened to the dispensary plans. There were no plans for a cultivation center.

Hass said their application was submitted Aug. 20. The property they are interested in is currently owned by RGM LLC and houses SimplexGrinnell, a security company that is moving at the end of October. The building is on 2.65 acres and is 12,000 square feet.

“The proposed space we envision for the dispensary is on the end space on the north side of the property. It would be about 3,000 square feet we would use for the dispensary,” Hass said, adding they would have warehouse space that would be accessed through an overhead door.

The remaining 9,000 square feet of space would be leased to commercial tenants. Hass said the contract her client has to purchase the building from the owner is contingent on a license being obtained from the state and the special use permit being approved by the East Peoria City Council.

The members of CIW LLC have “exceptional business expertise as well as experience in health care related dealings,” Hass said.

Hass said the CIW group is also applying for another dispensary license in Bloomington.

“We’re not an out of state investor coming here trying to open up a shop,” she said, citing ties to central Illinois.

Hass talked about the background of medical marijuana in Illinois and said that there will be a total of 60 dispensaries and 21 cultivation centers.

“Only 22 of the licenses with regards to dispensaries are going to be located essentially outside the Chicago area,” Hass said.

In state police District 8, which includes Peoria, Tazewell, Stark, Marshall and Woodford counties, the state allows only two dispensaries. East Peoria, Hass said, is a good choice because of its central location. She added the applicant also feels the property is a good location.

“The property is a free-standing building. We’re not dealing with a strip mall or multiple tenants. ... It’s located off the interchange right there off 74 so we feel it’s a great location in terms of public access,” she said.

Some residents in attendance did not agree that the location at 1050-1090 N. Main St. would be a good choice.

Resident John Goddard, 960 N. Main St., opposed the dispensary.

“Are you aware that this is right next to a residence with a small child? You wouldn’t put this next to a day care. Why would you put this next to a residence?”

“Twenty percent of all the drugs dispensed in the U.S. today are resold. I don’t want people selling pot on my street, period,” Goddard said.

Resident Greg Neal, 930 N. Main St., was blunt.

“Nobody really wants to be associated with your business. It’s kind of a dirty business. It has that stigma. You’re going to have a hard time living that down,” Neal said.

Neal said he is concerned about medical marijuana patients reselling cannabis on his street after they obtain it at the dispensary.

“It’s going to be like sin central. We’ve got gambling, hotels across the road which always harbor prostitution, now we’re going to have drug sales,” Neal said.

ZBA members asked questions about parking and security for the proposed dispensary.

Kenneth Boudreau of Orland Park, who has a background in law enforcement, addressed questions about security for CIW Holdings.

“We feel we have a security complement from the Par-A-Dice Casino. Their cameras are at that entire intersection right there, so actually we’re going to be on their cameras as well including the camera system we’re also placing inside and outside the facility,” Boudreau said, adding there will also be security alarms.

“The state requirement requires us to maintain video retrieval storage of 180 days down to facial recognition,” he added.

Patients would never be in the area where the cannabis is delivered, Boudreau said.

The entire building would have restricted access — limited and highly restricted, and the cannabis will be stored in a vault.

“The area for any public people to walk in is very small,” Boudreau said. “The only people allowed inside the building are those that are going to be approved by the Illinois Department of Public Health that have an approved registry identification card.”

When patients come in, Boudreau said they would have one on one service and all cannabis would not be viewable.

In transporting the cannabis, Boudreau said the security is going to exceed that of a Brinks truck.

“I sort of apply this to a Walgreens,” Boudreau said of the strict access. “If you’ve been inside a Walgreens, well certainly they have a lot more controlled substance with a higher street value than a cannabis dispensary would have, and we are probably exceeding the requirements for a Walgreens tenfold.

“The cannabis that’s being shipped is in sealed food-proof containers. It’s not loose. It’s not going to be weighed. The dispensary is not even allowed to break it apart or open it,” he said.

Despite any security measures, residents along the road still expressed concerns, including those of increased traffic.

Kelly Ramirez of Lakeview Veterinary Clinic at 1122 N. Main St., said traffic is horrendous in the area already.

“Anyone who’s tried to pull into the gas station or in or around the drive-thru at Burger King, that intersection stop light area is horrendous. I’ve almost been hit on a daily basis,” Ramirez said. “Increased traffic coming in to that area is a huge concern for us.”

No one spoke in opposition for the petitions of Moushon or Joseph.

Moushon said he would build a new facility from scratch on property he owns.

The application process for the medical marijuana dispensaries closes Sept. 22. Even if the City Council approves the special use requests, the state still has to approve the location.

Hass said the best guess is that the dispensaries and cultivation centers would be up and running in the state by March.