Mount Prospect rejects recreational pot sales, but medical marijuana likely to expand in village

  • Virginia Haase of Mount Prospect urges Mount Prospect board members to vote against allowing recreational marijuana sales in the village during the meeting Tuesday.

      Virginia Haase of Mount Prospect urges Mount Prospect board members to vote against allowing recreational marijuana sales in the village during the meeting Tuesday. Steve Zalusky | Staff Photographer

 
Updated 12/11/2019 7:30 PM

While the sale of recreational marijuana in Mount Prospect failed to gain village board support, the village's medical marijuana operation is thriving and is likely to grow.

And there is a chance the village board might revisit the recreational pot sale issue, just as it did with video gambling, Mayor Arlene Juracek said.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"We'll have to see how this all unfolds in the communities around us and throughout the state of Illinois," said Juracek. Although she did not cast a vote, Juracek said she would have voted for opting in.

On Tuesday, the village board voted 4-2 to opt out of recreational marijuana sales, as some trustees voiced concerns about the impact of cannabis on the community, particularly its younger population.

"I just can't believe that we can allow our youth, the future of Mount Prospect, to go ahead and become addicted to cannabis," Trustee Richard Rogers said.

Starting Jan. 1, anyone 21 or older in Illinois can possess up to 30 grams of cannabis, 5 grams of cannabis concentrate and 500 milligrams of tetrahydrocannabinol. State-licensed growing, cultivated and sales facilities will be allowed, too. But individual communities can restrict or ban cannabis-related businesses.

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Despite the vote to ban pot retail sales in Mount Prospect, the medical marijuana operation in the village is very much alive.

Mark de Souza, CEO of Revolution Ventures Illinois LLC, which acquired Mount Prospect's medical cannabis dispensary, New Age Care, said the business is not moving, despite the village board's thumbs-down on recreational sales.

New Age Care, 2015 East Euclid Ave., is one of the medical dispensaries in the state that has received same-site recreational licenses.

"We're probably still going to expand our medical facility anyway," because "the demand still continues to go up on the medical side," de Souza said.

The village board room was full during Tuesday's meeting with supporters and opponents of recreational cannabis, the latter wearing the standard issue "opt out" shirts. Approximately 30 people approached the podium to address the board.

"I believe that an opt-out vote is also going to be a very fiscally irresponsible decision," said Yulia Bjekic, who finished behind Rogers in this year's race for a village trustee seat. "Our public pensions remain only 60% funded. We recently received some unfortunate news about retailers leaving one of the largest sources of sales tax revenue, Randhurst Village."

The board also heard emotional testimony from opponents, including resident Virginia Haase, who told trustees, "One of my friends, who is 30 years sober, said to me, 'Ginny, Ginny, Ginny, I don't know anybody who is on opioids and heroin or dead that has not started with marijuana.'"

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