RedEye

Chicago tries to block medical marijuana

Politicians have a way of losing their grip on reality when it comes to marijuana. That's the problem in Chicago, where Mayor Emanuel and powerful alderman Ed Burke want to slap absurdly strict limits on medical marijuana dispensaries.

Under the new state law, these facilities can locate only in manufacturing zones -- and then only if they're 1,000 feet away from residences, schools and daycare centers. That puts much of the city off-limits. But it's not enough for some people.

As the Tribune reported last week, "Burke and Emanuel want to make the permits a special use that would also require the OK of the city Zoning Board of Appeals, a body appointed by the mayor which nearly always takes its cues from local aldermen."

This may sound like a reasonable approach, akin to limits on bars and liquor stores. It's not. The politicians seem to forget that we're talking about medical marijuana -- a drug dispensed under a doctor's supervision only for patients with legitimate, proven therapeutic needs.

It's not as though any block with a dispensary is going to be overrun with stoners. Patients will have to pay $150 and be fingerprinted for a special state ID to get their medication. Only those with certain specific illnesses and medical conditions will qualify -- including cancer, Lou Gehrig's disease, multiple sclerosis, traumatic brain injury, AIDS and the like.

Barring dispensaries from a neighborhood is like barring pharmacies. It denies sick people ready access to the treatment they need. It's not a sensible protection against drug abuse or a way of keeping neighborhoods safe. It's an irrational act of cruelty.


Copyright © 2015, RedEye
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