Libertyville leaning against marijuana sales for recreational use

Libertyville officials are leaning against allowing the sale of recreational marijuana in town, but public input is being sought before an official decision is made.

Libertyville leaders, like those in communities across the state, are determining how to proceed when the possession and private use of marijuana becomes legal in Illinois beginning Jan. 1. Communities can't outlaw its use, but they can decide to prohibit or restrict the location of businesses that sell it.

Village officials have held one informal discussion and are expected to approve a measure Tuesday directing the advisory plan commission to hold a public hearing Aug. 26 on possible zoning changes related to marijuana sales.

As it stands, marijuana sales would be categorized under village code as being miscellaneous retail and permitted in Libertyville's four commercial zoning districts. Doing nothing means that recreational marijuana could be sold at pretty much any retail outlet.

"We haven't taken any official action, but we're referring it to the plan commission for a hearing and the recommendation of the board will be we not have them," Mayor Terry Weppler said.

Information provided to the board included a sample resolution from Glencoe approved in June that directs its zoning commission to evaluate the classification of cannabis businesses and recommend whether some or all cannabis businesses should be prohibited or, if allowed, under what conditions.

Libertyville's public hearing will give residents an opportunity to weigh in. As such, the venue has been moved from village hall to larger quarters at the nearby Libertyville Civic Center.

Theoretically, the board could revise its stance to allow the sale in a specially designated area.

"We've had input from residents saying we don't want you to do it. Could that change? Absolutely," Weppler said.

One enticing aspect of allowing marijuana sales is that communities can impose a tax of up to 3% of a purchase in 0.25% increments.

While Libertyville is always watching its bottom line and looking for new revenue, that isn't a driving factor, according to Weppler. He noted that video gambling also generates revenue but residents opposed it and the board rejected the idea.

At this point, there is no way to know how much revenue that might generate and it will be difficult to establish revenue projections until dispensaries are operating in comparable communities, finance director Nick Mostardo said.

It appears a majority of the village board oppose sales of recreational marijuana, which would make it a moot point, he said.

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