Island Lake plan would allow marijuana dispensaries in some areas of village

Island Lake officials have sent a proposal to regulate marijuana dispensaries and related businesses to the village's planning and zoning commission for consideration.

After that group reviews the plan, the village board will vote on whether to allow such businesses in town. None operate in Island Lake now.

If approved, the proposed ordinance would allow dispensaries, grow centers or related businesses to operate in specific business, office, research or industrial zones - as long as they first get special-use permits from the village.

They would not be allowed within 1,500 feet of schools, day care centers or similar businesses, among other rules.

As of Jan. 1, 2020, anyone 21 or older can possess up to 30 grams of cannabis, 5 grams of cannabis concentrate and 500 milligrams of tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC.

Sales at state-licensed dispensaries will be allowed to expand beyond medical uses. Individual communities, however, can restrict or ban cannabis sales.

Trustee Will Ziegler said he would welcome a proposal for a dispensary in town.

"We have plenty of open space and storefronts for them," Ziegler said.

If dispensaries are banned locally, Island Lake residents will go to another town to buy marijuana and bring it back to the village, Ziegler said.

Ziegler and other trustees expressed concern about whether police officers are able to effectively conduct tests to determine if motorists are under the influence of cannabis.

But Ziegler also said he's more worried about drunken drivers than those high on cannabis products.

"I'm excited to see the evolution of future marijuana DUI testing," Ziegler said.

Trustee Dan Powell favors allowing marijuana businesses in town, saying they could improve the local economy.

Concerns about intoxicated drivers won't go away if the village bans dispensaries, he said. Drivers high on cannabis products still will drive through town, he said, but the village won't receive any of the economic benefits of a local business.

Powell said he wants to hear residents' opinions on the matter and suggested people come to a future board meeting to let officials know where they stand.

In a recent Facebook post, Trustee Richard McLaughlin said he wants to hear from residents before making a decision.

The zoning commission will hold a public hearing before the board votes. A hearing date hasn't been set.

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