Regulating Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

In compliance with the Illinois Medical Cannabis Act (MCA) that was passed in August 2013, the Village of Mundelein wanted to identify areas where marijuana dispensaries might be allowed by law.  The village Chief of Police contacted the village Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Office about creating visual aids that could be used in a series of PowerPoint slides to show the restricted areas in the village defined by the law.

The first aid that was created was related to restrictions around residential areas, which showed that only 25 percent of the Village met the requirements for a possible dispensary location.  The next aid that was created related to schools, places of worship, and day care centers, all with a 1,000 foot buffer area displayed around them representing areas where dispensary locations are restricted under the law.  After combining these two types of regulations together, the only remaining areas where a dispensary could be opened were in the northwest and southeast corners of the Village.  This was the expected result, as these parts of the community contain large industrial and retail lots.

By creating these PowerPoint slides, the Police Department now has a tool to show residents, and others inquiring about that law, that there are not many areas where dispensaries are allowed.  The village Planning department also has a tool for identifying zoning districts where they might make changes to the ordnances to further limit where dispensaries can be built.  By using GIS to assist with this analysis,  the Police and Planning departments have a tool for combining complex information into a spatial environment for mapping, making it easier to identify all areas where dispensaries can and cannot be built.