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Local News

Medical marijuana dispensary proposed in Manhattan

MANHATTAN – Michelle Sumner of Plainfield brought plans for a medical marijuana dispensary to the Manhattan Village Board on Tuesday night, saying her motivation is simple.

“I’m a nurse in it to help,” she said.

The proposal was presented at a time when a proposed growing center for medical marijuana in nearby Wilton Township has faced opposition from residents there.

Sumner said medical marijuana can bring pain relief to patients who need it.

She told the Village Board she chose Manhattan as a location two weeks ago, after hours of driving through the county.

“It serves the whole southeastern corridor,” Sumner said of the potential site.

Village Clerk Mattie Becker commended Sumner on her efforts.

“I had breast cancer,” Becker said. “I wish I had medical marijuana when I went through it.”

Sumner wants to locate the dispensary, to be called Serenity Leaf, in a new, vacant building on Route 52, on the north end of town. Going in first would eliminate any effect the dispensary otherwise could have on existing tenants, she said.

Responding to a question by Kathy Kirby, of Kirby’s Korner Bakery, Sumner said dispensary security would be strong. There would be a security person on the premises during all open hours and a real-time security camera 24 hours a day.

Manhattan Mayor James Doyle said village police would be the first responders if security were breached.

Board questions centered on security, regulations and the effect the dispensary might have on future businesses. Village Trustee Thomas Biscan asked why Sumner chose Manhattan when many national retailers tell the village the population won’t yet support a store.

Trustee Mike Adrieansen asked if the dispensary might deter other businesses from the strip mall. Sumner responded that “with education and time” she hopes others will see the dispensary’s benefits. She anticipates being open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays, later on Tuesdays. She would be open every other Saturday morning.

The product would be ordered from a cultivation facility. Applications are being readied for a Sept. 22 deadline to the state from a variety of potential growers.

White Oak Growers has presented a plan for a cultivation facility just south of Manhattan in Wilton Township. Residents there have spoken out against the plan. Meanwhile, Manhattan officials are considering annexing the site, which would put the growing center within village limits.
Three of the White Oak Growers owners were at Tuesday’s Village Board meeting.

Mayor James Doyle said Manhattan’s central location – near Interstates 55, 57, 80 and 355 and the proposed Illiana Expressway – puts Manhattan “in the middle of everything. That’s what makes Manhattan so appealing. It’s an advantage.”

If Serenity Leaf is granted a state license, Sumner would not need zoning approval, since the site is already zoned for business uses. However, the state will only grant licenses to 60 dispensaries statewide, and those dispensaries are to be located throughout Illinois.

Growing centers also are limited by state law. The state will only allow one in each state police district, meaning only one will be permitted in Will County, even though at least a half-dozen proposals have been made in the county.

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