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Normal could widen buffer zone for recreational marijuana stores

This  map shows the proposed changes to Normal's existing buffer zones for recreational cannabis dispensaries.
Town of Normal
This map shows the proposed changes to Normal's existing buffer zones for recreational cannabis dispensaries.

Normal is considering adjusting its rules about where cannabis dispensaries can operate in the town.

On Wednesday, the town council will discuss a proposal to widen buffers around schools, daycares, churches and some residential zoning. The proposal also would tighten the state’s 1,500-foot separation rule for dispensaries.

The council usually meets the first and third Mondays of the month on the fourth floor of Uptown Station. But because of the Fourth of July holiday, the meeting will begin at 7 p.m. Wednesday.

If the council opts to initiate the process for considering a zoning code amendment, an Aug. 10 public hearing would be held prior to a meeting of the Normal Planning Commission.

The earliest the Normal Town Council would vote on the proposed changes would be Aug. 21.

The proposalfollows a June 5 council work session, held to consider public concerns raised this spring as Normal issued permits for its second and third dispensaries.

The changes would double to 200 feet the space between dispensaries and schools, day care centers and churches. It also adds language to a state rule requiring 1,500 feet of separation between dispensaries.

The owners of High Haven want to open a cannabis dispensary at 106 Mall Drive in Normal. That's the current location of the Mandarin Garden restaurant.
Town of Normal
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Meeting Materials
The owners of High Haven want to open a cannabis dispensary at 106 Mall Drive in Normal. That's the current location of the Mandarin Garden restaurant.

Illinois allows exceptions — if the owner is a “social equity” recipient, for example. But the Normal proposal calls for that 1,500-foot separation regardless of who owns a dispensary.

This rule would apply to an infuser that co-locates with a dispensary, but would not apply to cannabis production facilities such as cultivators, processors, transporters, or stand-alone infusers.

Medical marijuana has been legal in the state since 2013, but since 2020, adults in Illinois also can legally use recreational marijuana.

Normal created a special-use permit category for the recreational marijuana market. Currently, if approved, business owners can set up in areas zoned for business, with these limitations:

  • At least 200 feet between the dispensary and any R-1 zoning (for single-family homes).
  • At least 100 feet from a pre-existing church, school, or daycare center.

Normal has OK'd 3 dispensaries

The town has OK’d three permits for adult-use marijuana dispensaries: Beyond/Hello, 501 W. Northtown Road; High Haven, 106 Mall Drive; and Revolution, 1609 Northbrook Drive.

The business now known as Beyond/Hello opened its Normal facility in 2015 as a medical marijuana dispensary. But it now also sells adult-use recreational marijuana.

High Haven and Revolution aren’t open yet. The council approved those permits in May. A fourth applicant withdrew from consideration, according to council materials. In February, the council rejected High Haven’s proposal.

That turnaround — rejecting in February but approving in May — is the focus of a lawsuit from Normal resident Jeff Fritzen, a former member of the Normal Town Council.

Michele Steinbacher was a WGLT correspondent, joining the staff in 2020. She left the station in 2024.