Lake Zurich bans recreational pot sales

Lake Zurich will ban the sale of recreational marijuana in the village when its possession and use becomes legal in Illinois next year.

Village trustees voted 5-1 Monday to establish the ban, with the majority siding with residents who appeared before the panel to voice strong objections.

"When I moved to this area, it was because it was a safe community," resident Amy Goggin told trustees. "I really worry that the negative impact - I mean, there's so many - but a big one is impaired drivers. I'm really hoping we will follow the other communities in the area that are opting out."

"What makes Lake Zurich great is the fact that we have such a strong sense of community," resident Michael Hilt said. "We enjoy living in a safe, family-friendly community."

Lake Zurich joins Grayslake in imposing an outright ban on marijuana sales when legalization goes into effect Jan. 1. Other Lake County communities, including Libertyville, Mundelein, Gurnee and Wauconda, remain undecided.

State law prevents municipalities from outlawing recreational marijuana use by adults 21 and over beginning next year but allows towns to prohibit sales or impose restrictions on where sales can take place.

Towns that allow sales can add a 3% sales tax on top of existing taxes. For Lake Zurich, that could mean an additional $200,000 to $400,000 in tax revenue a year, officials said.

"I just don't think the trade-off is worth it," Trustee Mary Beth Euker said.

Before Monday's vote, the village conducted a resident survey on recreational marijuana use. Mayor Thomas Poynton said the more than 1,300 responses showed residents were about evenly divided on allowing dispensaries in town.

"It's an issue that's got strong supporters on both sides of the issue, almost 50-50," he said. "Whether we like it or not, recreational cannabis will be in Lake Zurich. The state made it legal. We're just left to clean up the fallout."

Trustee Janice Gannon cast the only vote against the ban. She said legalizing marijuana would make it safer to use.

"For some reason, people in our society believe prescription pills are OK, but marijuana is not," Gannon said. "Our community's safety would not be changed by a cannabis store. Recreational cannabis will help businesses grow and create jobs."

Her colleagues disagreed.

"I think the state legislature was extremely shortsighted," Trustee Marc Spacone said.

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