Buffalo Grove formally opposes legalization of recreational marijuana

Buffalo Grove has waded into the statewide debate over legalizing recreational marijuana, as a divided village board narrowly passed a resolution against it Monday.

Village President Beverly Sussman broke a 3-3 deadlock to pass the resolution, which is modeled after a similar measure approved by Vernon Hills trustees. It urges lawmakers to slow down the process to provide more time to consider the impact on society and examine data from other states that have passed similar legislation.

The resolution also states that municipalities must be guaranteed the right to retain local regulatory authority, much as they do with liquor licenses.

Trustee David Weidenfeld, a longtime volunteer with OMNI Youth Services, said the marijuana bill pending in Springfield is "not ready for prime time."

"I understand the dire financial straits that the state is in. But I find it inappropriate to slam something through just because it's a quick way to make a buck," he said.

Along with Weidenfeld and Sussman, Trustees Andrew Stein and Lester Ottenheimer III voted to oppose legalization.

The village board also heard arguments against recreational marijuana from the Catalyst Club, a group of Stevenson High School and Aptakisic Junior High School students that constitutes the youth prevention arm of the Stand Strong Coalition.

Ananya Pati, a Stevenson graduate, said the impact on traffic safety in Colorado has been significant, with 69 percent of marijuana users reporting they have driven while high in the past year.

Trustees also heard impassioned testimony from residents affected by family members with drug addiction.

Voting against the resolution were Trustees Joanne Johnson, Eric Smith and Gregory Pike.

"Whether we opt out or not, we have to enforce the law and we have to train our police officers," Johnson said. "And that's going to cost money. Where will that money come from? Do we raise property taxes?"

Johnson also was in favor of including local control over recreational marijuana in a state bill.

"Dual licensing and treating cannabis like liquor is the best way, because this allows local municipalities to respond quickly to bad actors or bad businesses that are in our community," she said.

Despite the measure, officials say the village will not stand in anybody's way if state lawmakers make it recreation marijuana legal, nor will it prevent marijuana-related businesses from operating in the village and generating tax revenue.

"To opt out of it gives you a whole new set of problems, because if it is legalized and we opt out, that means people in Buffalo Grove will be allowed to have recreational marijuana, but we will not get any money for any of the problems that come as the result of it," Sussman said. "We will have to pay for that on our own. So there is a very big difference between opposing it and opting out."

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