WEST LOOP — A former Chicago Police detective and head of the Illinois State Police who was most recently in charge of security for the U.S. Senate has returned home to help open a medical marijuana dispensary in the West Loop.
After retiring from his post as the Senate sergeant at arms in May, Terry Gainer is now serving as a security consultant for Green Thumb Industries, the group that aims to open a medical marijuana dispensary at Lake and Morgan streets. At a Neighbors of the West Loop meeting Wednesday night, Gainer answered questions about the Lake Street dispensary's security plan.
Green Thumb Industries co-founder Ben Kovler, an investor, wants to open The Clinic West Loop at the site.
Under the team's plan, a medical marijuana patient would enter a secure vestibule in the Lake Street building. Once inside, the patient would have to show a state ID and a state-issued medical marijuana card to a security agent, according to Gainer, before being "buzzed" into a secure waiting room and then the dispensing area. Once in the dispensing area, the patient would work with a licensed pharmacist to buy a product.
In addition to internal and external cameras, the dispensary would have on-site roving and stationary security guards, Gainer said.
Patients inside the facility would always be accompanied by a dispensary employee, and the marijuana would be discretely packaged, Kovler said.
For customers who drive to The Clinic West Loop and park in one of its 10 parking spots, the dispensary would offer optional escorts to walk them to their car after buying marijuana.
Under state law, medical marijuana license holders would be allowed to buy 2.5 ounces of marijuana every two weeks. Kovler expects the dispensary's average transaction to be $50-$75 and patients would be allowed to pay in cash or via debit card. Cash would be securely stored by the dispensary in a "reverse ATM system," Kovler said.
Although he previously said 50-100 patients would be served daily, Kovler said Wednesday night he now expected the dispensary to serve 10 to 15 patients daily in its first year. As required by the state, each medical marijuana patient would have to register with a specific dispensary, Kovler said.
Cameras, which will offer a 360-degree view of the building, will be monitored at a command station in the building and at a remote site, Gainer said.
All deliveries will be made inside the building on an irregular schedule, according to the Gainer and Kovler.
Gainer, a former Chicago Police detective, was appointed director of the Illinois State Police under former Gov. Jim Edgar in 1991. In 2002, he was named chief of the U.S. Capitol Police, and in 2007 he was sworn in as Senate sergeant at arms.
Green Thumb Industries' security plan was just part of its 1,000-page application to the state.
The Clinic West Loop, at 955 W. Lake St., has earned a special-use permit before the city's Zoning Board of Appeals.
Now that the Lake Street dispensary has cleared the zoning board, the owners are waiting for the state to approve or deny their application to operate it. Kovler said he expected to hear back from the state in November or December.
The state plans to grant 60 dispensary licenses, 13 of which will be located in Chicago.
Fulton Street dispensary group absent
Although both West Loop medical marijuana entrepreneurs were expected to present Wednesday night, trucking executive and strip club owner Perry Mandera didn't show. Aiken said Neighbors of the West Loop were informed the Fulton Street dispensary owners wouldn't attend in a letter sent to the group Wednesday.
Mandera aims to open Custom Strains, a medical marijuana dispensary, in a vacant building at 1105 W. Fulton St.
In a letter, Mandera wrote that he was only informed of the Wednesday evening meeting on Monday and several members of his team would not be able to attend.
"My team consists of several experts, some of which are located out of state," Mandera wrote. "As such, and regretfully, none of them were able to make travel arrangements on such short notice."
Mandera asked to reschedule a meeting with Neighbors of the West Loop at a future date. Mandera did say that the Fulton Street group still plans to present at a Randolph/Fulton Market Association meeting at 6 p.m. Wednesday at Alhambra Palace restaurant, 1240 W. Randolph St.
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