Naperville resident organizing rallies against recreational pot

Jennifer Bruzan Taylor does not want her children living near recreational marijuana dispensaries.

She feels so strongly about the issue that she's organizing a movement encouraging her hometown to #OptOutNaperville.

Bruzan Taylor is one of about 15 people planning rallies to push the Naperville City Council to prohibit recreational marijuana shops from opening under the Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act, which goes into effect Jan. 1.

The city could enact a ban as soon as Tuesday; the issue is expected to be up for a vote during a meeting at 7 p.m. in the municipal center at 400 S. Eagle St.

The Opt Out Naperville movement is hosting rallies at 10 a.m. Saturday in Central Park and 6 p.m. Tuesday at the Free Speech Pavilion along the Riverwalk to gather people who want the ban put into effect. Bruzan Taylor said she expects around 100 people to attend the Saturday event.

"I would never have moved here if we had opted into selling recreational marijuana," said Bruzan Taylor, a Naperville native who moved back to her hometown because of its strong reputation as a kid-friendly place. "I would have picked a suburb that didn't."

In Chicago, where Bruzan Taylor and her family lived for about 10 years, she said neighbors using marijuana in their condo building would overwhelm the place with the smell of weed. If Naperville allows shops selling the drug for recreational purposes, she said she fears the same would happen in the state's fourth-largest city.

"I know it's supposed to be on private property only," she said about recreational use. "And yet, that's not what happens."

Businesses looking to sell recreational marijuana are vying for up to 47 licenses available to be issued before May 1 in the Chicago region. Medical dispensaries can apply for early-approval licenses to sell recreational cannabis at their current site and at one other location.

On Thursday, the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation announced that the sole medical dispensary in Naperville, 3C Compassionate Care Center, was one of the first five to receive a license to begin selling recreational marijuana beginning Jan. 1. But the license requires the businesses to comply with local zoning rules and other local laws.

Bruzan Taylor said she does not want 3C or any other recreational marijuana businesses in Naperville, and she's not the only one. Naperville City Council members said they received roughly 150 email messages - many of them form letters - from opponents of recreational sales before their Aug. 20 meeting.

"This is not a Democrat issue or a Republican issue," Bruzan Taylor said. "This is a community issue."

On Tuesday, the Naperville council plans to debate the potential ban and consider whether members instead want to set zoning rules to allow and regulate a 3C recreational dispensary or any other recreational shops.

State law says retail stores selling recreational marijuana cannot be placed within 1,500 feet of each other and advertising is prohibited within 1,000 feet of school grounds, parks and playgrounds, recreation and child care centers, public libraries, and game arcades with people under 21.

Past that, zoning regulations are up to each town.

Bruzan Taylor hopes Naperville leaders will decide the best location for these businesses is nowhere.

"I just don't see this as being good for Naperville economically and also for its image as being family conscious," she said. "I decided to organize this (rallies) in order to show the councilmen that people in Naperville care about this."

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