Des Plaines to allow recreational pot sales, related businesses

Des Plaines will allow recreational marijuana sales and related businesses to operate in town after use and possession by adults becomes legal in Illinois on Jan. 1.

City alderman on Monday passed an amendment to the village code permitting five types of marijuana operations in the city - cultivation centers, dispensaries, craft growers, processors and infusers.

The businesses must be at least 1,500 feet away from each other, and more than 500 feet away from schools, child care centers and churches. Cultivation centers have to be at least 2,500 feet away from schools, child care centers and churches, under the regulations.

The vote came without discussion Monday as part of the city council's consent agenda, though aldermen have debated the issue at previous meetings.

Under the state law that goes into effect New Year's Day, municipalities cannot outlaw use or possession of a small amount of marijuana, but they can ban its sale within town limits or regulate sellers. Towns that allow sales can impose a 3% tax on top of state taxes.

The Des Plaines council has yet approve an ordinance establishing that 3% sales tax, but Director of Community Development Michael McMahon said it is expected at their next meeting.

Anyone seeking to launch a marijuana business in Des Plaines will be required to go through a public hearing before the city's planning and zoning board, and to get the approval of the city council.

Hours will be limited to 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., and only one flat exterior sign will be allowed, under regulations approved Monday. Signs may not be directly illuminated or contain marijuana imagery, such as cannabis leaves, plants, smoke or cartoons. And marijuana products may not be used or sampled on the premises, under the city's ordinance.

McMahon said there has been interest in opening recreational marijuana shops in town.

"We've fielded about a half a dozen calls from different operators, asking about the ordinance and when it would take effect," he said.

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