Mundelein, Naperville clinics among first to get recreational pot licenses

Clinics in Mundelein and Naperville are among the first five in Illinois to receive licenses to sell recreational marijuana, state officials announced Thursday.

Clinic Mundelein, 1325 Armour Blvd., and 3C Compassionate Care Center, 1700 Quincy Ave. #103, Naperville, could begin selling marijuana for recreational use by adults on Jan. 1, under licenses granted by the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation. But the suburbs' leaders also must allow it.

Both facilities already operate as medical marijuana dispensaries. Other dispensaries awarded licenses Thursday are in Canton, Effingham and Joliet. All are owned by Chicago-based Green Thumb Industries.

The licenses allow existing medical dispensaries to sell recreational marijuana at their locations or another site within the same town. The licenses require the businesses to comply with local zoning rules and other local laws.

Officials in Naperville and Mundelein remain undecided about whether, or under what circumstances, they will allow recreational marijuana sales in their towns.

In Naperville, city council members initially favored a ban on sales. But at a meeting last week, they indicated they might consider setting zoning rules to regulate pot shops, if they are to be allowed.

Setting zoning rules could take two to three months. It would start with hearings before the planning and zoning commission before the city council votes on it.

Mundelein officials heard a presentation by a mental health professional on the issue Monday, but the village board has not debated it further.

Just because the business got a license from the state doesn't necessarily mean The Clinic Mundelein can sell marijuana to recreational users starting Jan. 1, village officials said.

Trustees have until Dec. 31 to decide if they will allow recreational sales in town, Village Administrator John Lobaito said. Currently, only medical marijuana sales are allowed in the village limits, and the clinic is the only state-licensed dispensary in town.

Lobaito compared marijuana licensing to video gambling licensing, saying both the state and municipalities have separate approval processes.

Mundelein trustees will debate the merits of allowing recreational sales when they next meet Sept. 23.

If either Mundelein or Naperville decide to ban recreational pot sales in town, the license awarded Thursday becomes "inactive," said Chris Slaby, spokesman for Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation.

"The license does not go away; it still exists. It's just inactive," Slaby said.

Starting Jan. 1, Illinois residents 21 and older can legally possess and consume up to 30 grams of cannabis flower and up to 5 grams of cannabis concentrate under the state's Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act. Patients registered in the medical cannabis pilot program can possess more than 30 grams of cannabis, if it is grown and secured in their home under certain conditions.

"The department anticipates receiving additional applications for early approval adult-use licenses as municipalities adopt relevant zoning ordinances regarding adult use cannabis," the regulation department said in a news release Thursday.

The state will issue up to 75 retail dispensary licenses, including 47 in the Chicago metro area, before May 1. Existing medical cannabis dispensaries can apply for early approval licenses to either sell recreational marijuana on site or at a different location. Up to 110 licenses will be available by December 2021.

• Daily Herald staff writer Russell Lissau contributed to this report.

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