Why Des Plaines might ban selling unregulated ingestible hemp products

Concerned about retailers selling intoxicating products without any governmental oversight or safety controls, the Des Plaines City Council on Monday will debate banning the sale of unregulated, ingestible products made from hemp and other substances.

The proposal is a response to the proliferation of stores in Des Plaines and nearby communities selling products using industrial hemp — a cannabis plant that contains low amounts of the high-inducing chemical commonly called THC but may have higher concentrations of related compounds — or other potentially intoxicating plants.

“These products are touted as alternatives to cannabis that produce similar intoxicating effects but are not regulated, inspected, or taxed in the same manner as legal cannabis,” Police Chief David Anderson and Community and Economic Development Director Jeff Rogers wrote in a memo.

Hemp-derived products such as edibles, beverages and salves have grown in popularity and availability here since the passage of a 2018 federal farm bill that legalized selling products that aren’t considered cannabis — and thus aren’t restricted to dispensaries — but contain small amounts of THC.

It wasn’t until the following year that Illinois lawmakers voted to legalize cannabis sales at licensed dispensaries, as well as limited cannabis possession.

The state’s cannabis industry has since taken off. Fifty-five Illinois dispensaries are licensed to sell medical cannabis, according to the state office for cannabis regulation oversight; more than 100 dispensaries are licensed to sell cannabis to anyone 21 or older. Most of the state’s dispensaries are in the Chicago area.

Despite the legalization of cannabis and links between synthetic products and consumer illnesses, hemp-derived intoxicants and synthetic cannabis remain legal in Illinois and are available for purchase by anyone — regardless of age — at convenience stores, gas stations and other shops.

Some communities — including Wheeling, Geneva and North Aurora — have banned them, however.

Under Des Plaines’ proposal, violators would face fines ranging from $200 to $750. But officials intend to give retailers time to sell or get rid of their current stock.

The city council would determine the length of such a delay.

The proposed ordinance wouldn’t prohibit licensed dispensaries from operating in Des Plaines. None exist in Des Plaines now, but entrepreneurs have shown interest in coming to town.

The public portion of Monday’s meeting is set for 7 p.m. at city hall, 1420 Miner St. It also can be viewed live online at

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