Elgin eyeing spring for next attempt to bring cannabis dispensary to city
Elgin residents wondering if and when the city will get a cannabis dispensary will get an answer this spring.
This week, city council members unanimously approved the city's first cannabis business. The facility is a craft grow operation in the Elgin Industrial Park off the southeast corner of McLean Boulevard and Big Timber Road. It will sell cannabis to dispensaries, not retail customers.
The grow operation can't open a dispensary in the same location under city law.
That sparked questions from council members who said they get frequent questions from constituents about when the city will get a dispensary. City officials modified zoning rules for the downtown in the fall of 2020, with hopes of bringing a dispensary to the downtown.
But more than a dozen lawsuits about who received dispensary licenses in the state lottery brought Elgin's push to a halt. Only facilities with a medical cannabis license moved forward with retail operations.
Elgin Community Development Director Marc Mylott told council members it doesn't matter how inviting the city makes its zoning to potential dispensaries if the business economics are bad.
"No one is willing to put money down to secure the property location when there is this high degree of uncertainty with these court cases," Mylott said. "If a lottery has to be redone, committing to a lease or a building right now is just not worth the risk."
State laws about cannabis dispensaries weighted applications in favor of businesses tied to areas with higher rates of cannabis arrests and minority applicants. The lawsuits complained that the actual licenses awarded failed to weigh the applications based on that criteria.
Those lawsuits are bundled into one case in Cook County that will be resolved within the next couple of months.
City council member Steve Thoren has personal business interests in a dispensary that wants to open in Elgin. He's following the court case and expects a new dispensary lottery in April.
"Then the floodgates are going to open," Thoren said. "The state knows they screwed up. It will be finalized this spring. I can't imagine that there won't be applicants who are knocking on our door. I know of one for sure."