Naperville seeking 'ample time' for recreational pot sales debate

Naperville officials already have heard from one business interested in selling recreational marijuana when nonmedical possession and use become legal Jan. 1.

So leaders say they want to listen and learn before deciding whether to permit or prohibit the new industry from setting up shop in town.

The business licensed to sell medical marijuana in Naperville, 3C Compassionate Care Center, reached out offering to help the city decide how to regulate recreational sales, City Manager Doug Krieger said.

All Illinois communities have the ability to set zoning rules to control the locations of recreational pot shops or to set the number of allowable shops to zero to ban them. Municipalities can do nothing to prohibit use and possession, which are governed by a new state law that allows adults 21 and older to have up to 30 grams of flower and five grams of concentrate for personal use.

"We need to address the issue regardless," Krieger said, "because we have a state law with a legal activity beginning Jan. 1 for which we have no zoning."

City Attorney Mike DiSanto said the city can set what council members consider "reasonable time, place, manner and number restrictions" on shops that sell cannabis products for nonmedical use.

Krieger said the zoning process to set such restrictions typically takes three months.

"There is no blueprint for this because it is brand new," he said.

City council member Kevin Coyne, who hosted a June 6 panel discussion about marijuana legalization with council member Patty Gustin, said he wants to allow "ample time to receive input from the public and various stakeholder groups before we make a decision on it."

The city could schedule a workshop to discuss the topic, as well as potentially conduct resident surveys or host open houses, Krieger said. The city also may consider gathering voter input through a referendum on an upcoming ballot. But the next election doesn't come until after recreational marijuana sales become legal.

Mayor Steve Chirico asked Krieger and his staff to develop a timeline for consideration of regulations to ensure the city isn't scrambling at the last moment to address what's expected to be a popular product.

"One way or another," Chirico said, "we need to take action on this prior to Jan. 1."

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