South Elgin board leans toward allowing one recreational marijuana business

South Elgin is inclined to allow one business selling recreational cannabis with no zoning restrictions, but no cannabis lounges, after a new state law takes effect Jan. 1.

The village board held a preliminary discussion Monday night at the request of Village Administrator Steve Super, who said he wanted to get guidance from the board regarding the potential sale of cannabis in South Elgin.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker is expected to sign the law, which will allow people 21 and over to possess up to 30 grams of cannabis. Only medical cannabis patients will be able to grow plants at home.

Municipalities will have the authority to allow retail shops to sell marijuana under the new law, or to opt out and prohibit sales. No board members in South Elgin said they wanted the latter.

"The use of alcohol, I believe, has more negative impacts on a community, and youngsters, than does recreational marijuana," Trustee Michael Kolodziej said.

Director of Community Development Nancy Hill said the village already is getting phone calls from people asking about possible locations for cannabis sales. The village board's general consensus was not to impose zoning restrictions on that.

Trustee Lisa Guess was the only board member who expressed hesitation, particularly regarding areas "where you are going to have families and such," she said.

Municipalities will be able to impose a 3% local sales tax on the sale of cannabis.

South Elgin should reap the benefits of cannabis retail before it sets up elsewhere, Village President Steve Ward said.

"If we don't take it, St. Charles is going to take it or Elgin is going to take it or Bartlett is going to take it," he said.

Kolodziej suggested using those sales taxes to fund road improvements in the wake of April's failed referendum request asking voters to increase the village's sales tax rate for that purpose.

Ward, however, suggested funneling those proceeds into additional police department training related to enforcing laws regarding driving under the influence of cannabis, which will remain illegal.

"The police department will have to deal with it, whether we have it in our town or not," Trustee Greg Lieser said.

Police Chief Jerry Krawczyk said only one of the department's 32 sworn officers is certified in drug detection, which includes cannabis. He hopes there will be funding for all officers to go through that, he said.

"Overall I would prefer the state not to pass the law, but since they did, we will deal with it," he said.

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