Visualization of the Medical Marijuana State Law on a Local Community

On January 1, 2014, the state of Illinois legalized the use and sale of medical marijuana.  Numerous area based regulations were included as part of the law, forcing local governments that are considering medical marijuana dispensary and cultivation centers within their community to look at each case within a spatial context.  To assist with this type of analysis, the Village of Schiller Park, IL Community Development and Administration departments called upon the village’s Geographic Information Systems (GIS) department to help visualize how these different regulations looked within the community and, as a result, where potential dispensaries and cultivation centers where legally allowed to locate. 

The restrictions dictated by the law are as follows, a cultivation center may not be within 2,500 feet of the property line of a public or private school, day care center, or an area zoned for residential use.  A dispensary may not be located within 1,000 feet of the property line of a public or private, day care center and may not be located in a house, apartment, condominium, or an area zoned for residential use.  Schiller Park was interested in seeing what areas in its village fall within and outside of these 1,000 and 2,500 foot restriction areas. Combining local knowledge from the Village staff, the regulations stated in the law, and existing GIS data, map products were generated showing the two types of restrictions as they applied to the village.  This was done by mapping the facility locations and property lines, then creating two separate buffers that correspond to the two types of regulations for each facility type.   Any area that fell within the buffers is restricted and any area that fell outside the buffers is open for consideration.

With the assistance of GIS, Community Development and Administration staff now have an easy to understand, visual tool to assist them with answering questions from residents and other interested parties that may come up in light of this fairly new law.