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Medical pot clinic considered in Palos Hills

Laws and LegislationNewsSouth Suburban Cook CountyLung CancerCVS HealthLocal

Palos Hills officials are mulling over a request by the owner of a medical marijuana dispensary to allow a clinic in the city.

Michael Perkowski, of Tinley Park, asked council members at a recent Committee-of-the-Whole meeting about requirements for a clinic, which he said would be located on a stretch of Southwest Highway or in the southeast quadrant because of state restrictions

The state's Medical Cannabis Pilot Program requires retail dispensaries to locate at least 1,000 feet from schools or day care centers, making the options slim in Palos Hills, he said.

"I wanted to bring it up just for the discussion to understand how things are done," said Perkowski, who set up a business called Releaf, LLC for the purposes of a future clinic. "I want to do it the right way for Palos Hills."

Mayor Gerald Bennett told Perkowski he would first need to choose a location and then request a special use for the clinic from the Plan Commission. He asked George Pappas, the city attorney, to research the state statute for local requirements first and noted only one dispensary would be allowed in a three-township area — Palos, Lemont and Lyons – since the state law limits the number to 60 statewide..

"He [city attorney] needs to brief the council before we can get into any discussion … it's not in our zoning code," said Bennett. "Please understand the cautiousness of the city council." .

Ald. Al Pasek said he thought the clinic could help the city.

"I look at the tax increase that could be generated by this," said Pasek. "What we have to keep in mind here is this is kind of like the wild, wild west…it's similar to Walgreen's or CVS when you're in pain and go to Walgreen's, they give you a narcotic-based drug and that's okay."

Pasek asked the council to keep an open mind about the clinic.

"It's kind of like, it's time to open our minds rather than constantly saying no to any business thing," he said, referring to past concerns by the council about restaurants and smoke or car washes with extra traffic and noise.

But other officials said it was a question of following the law, not necessarily being opposed to legal uses of the drug.

"I'm just saying we've got be educated," said Ald. Mary Ann Schultz .

"Personally it doesn't bother me at all," said Bennett about the appropriate use of medical marijuana.

After the meeting, Perkowski said the idea of a clinic was important to him because his mother has Stage IV lung cancer and his dad died of the disease. One of his grandparents also recently died of cancer, he said. His mother has taken Marinol, a drug containing a synthetic form of cannabis, which helped increase her appetite after she lost 30 to 40 pounds, he said.

"It made this issue very big with me…how this would really help," Perkowski said, adding that holistic medicine, meditation and energy healing also would be offered.

"I want to make money but I also want to help people," he said.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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Laws and LegislationNewsSouth Suburban Cook CountyLung CancerCVS HealthLocal