DuPage County begins discussions about allowing marijuana sales

A DuPage County Board committee is recommending less restrictive zoning for recreational pot businesses than medical cannabis establishments, a move that sets the stage for a larger discussion about the possible sale of recreational marijuana in unincorporated areas.

The full county board next week is expected to begin talking about whether to allow businesses to sell marijuana under Illinois' Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act, which will make recreational use and possession by adults legal beginning Jan. 1.

"We could take the pulse of the county board next week," said board member Sam Tornatore, who is chairman of the development committee. "Then, at the next meeting, experts can come in to talk to us about law enforcement, health and (other issues related to the sale of cannabis)."

Ultimately, board members will decide if the county will opt in or opt out of the retail portion of the state law.

Ahead of that discussion, members of the development committee on Tuesday recommended that recreational pot businesses - if allowed - have less restrictive zoning requirements than medical cannabis businesses.

In unincorporated DuPage, medical cannabis dispensaries must be located at least 1,000 feet from the property line of a school, day care facility or area zoned for residential use. Meanwhile, medical cannabis cultivation centers must be located at least 2,500 feet from those same areas, officials said.

Tornatore said if the development committee recommended the same zoning restrictions for recreational and medical marijuana businesses, "that would have essentially been a recommendation to opt out because there's no place to put it."

He said the review by the development committee was the beginning of a process.

"It (the issue) had to get to the county board somehow," the Roselle Republican said. "This seemed to be the logical place to start."

Three Democrats on the board - Ashley Selmon of Addison, Sadia Covert of Naperville and Sheila Rutledge of West Chicago - already have called on the county to allow the sale of recreational cannabis in unincorporated areas.

"We really need to think about shoring up our finances in this county," Selmon said Tuesday. "Finding a new revenue source that is a legal source that can help our agricultural industry ... is the best course of action."

If the county permits cannabis to be sold in unincorporated areas, it's allowed to place a local sales tax of up to 3.75% on the sales.

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