Cultivating Cannabis: Three Steps Toward Growing the Cannabis Industry in Your Town

Muse Community + Design recently drafted an Adult-Use Cannabis ordinance for the Village of Forest Park, adopted January 13, 2020. We carefully drafted the ordinance to include all elements of the cannabis industry including cultivation centers, craft growers, processing organizations, infuser organizations, dispensing organizations, and transporting organizations. Muse designed the ordinance to explicitly place the new uses within the appropriate zoning districts.

In 2020, The Illinois Department of Agriculture plans to license up to 40 cannabis craft growers, 40 cannabis infusers, eight community college programs, and an unlimited number of transporters. The Department is not authorized to license any additional adult use cultivation centers until July 1, 2021. By December 21, 2021, it intends to issue licenses to up to 60 additional cannabis craft growers and another 60 cannabis infusers.

To tap into this burgeoning economy, municipalities must first draft and pass a thorough ordinance. Those wishing to cultivate a thriving cannabis industry in their communities should follow these three steps:

1. Pass a business-friendly ordinance that addresses all aspects of the cannabis industry, including cultivation centers, craft growers, processing organizations, infusers, dispensers, and transporters. We’re all familiar with the idea of growing and selling cannabis, but what about the needs of a business that will transport the product or infuse oils into consumable products? These businesses are also an important aspects of the industry and many are scouring locations across Chicagoland so they too can grow. Consider what areas of town may be appropriate for cannabis uses ‘by-right.’ Reducing the time it takes for approval is an incentive for these businesses. 

2. Promote your ordinance. Many businesses are looking for the right location, but don’t know which municipalities have passed ordinances and which ones have not. Save these new businesses the time of calling around and promote your ordinance! Partner with your economic development agency to attend local cannabis-related fairs and even target ads to those in the industry to let them know that you are open for business.  

3. Identify the needs of businesses that will process, infuse, or transport cannabis. Expand your economic development scope to include businesses that don’t just cultivate or sell – there is a lot of opportunity for economic development by attracting related cannabis businesses. For example, transporter businesses are prohibited by state law from keeping any inventory on-site – they simply need office space and a place to store their fleet. This type of use is a natural fit for many industrial-zoned districts and, in most cases, should not require a special use or conditional use permit.

Muse Community + Design can help municipalities analyze their zoning code and draft an adult-use cannabis ordinance to ensure compliance with Illinois’ laws and position them to attract new businesses. For more information, contact Nina Idemudia, Director of Planning at 312-416-2816 or