Fans, critics of marijuana sales again try to sway Mundelein trustees
As Mundelein officials moved closer to making a decision about allowing recreational marijuana businesses in town, people again packed village hall on Monday night to share their opinions.
Mundelein High School District 120 Superintendent Kevin Myers was among the many people who urged trustees to vote against allowing such operations in town once a recently approved legalization law takes effect Jan. 1. The first speaker of the night, Myers voiced concern about students experimenting with marijuana even though they'd legally be too young to buy it, as well as the impact such businesses would have on Mundelein's image.
"I think that's a detriment to our community," said Myers, who also is superintendent of Mundelein Elementary District 75.
But then there was Mundelein resident Tim Van Nuys, who said the tax revenue from recreational marijuana sales is a "wonderful economic opportunity" for Mundelein, especially because other Lake County towns are passing on dispensaries.
"Keep an open mind," Van Nuys said.
Lake County Treasurer Holly Kim, a Mundelein resident and former trustee who unsuccessfully ran for mayor in 2017, criticized officials for campaigning as pro-business candidates but not actively supporting this plan.
"Let grown adults decide for themselves," Kim said. "If it passes, I'll be the first customer."
Starting next year, anyone 21 or older can possess up to 30 grams of cannabis, 5 grams of cannabis concentrate and 500 milligrams of tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC.
Sales at state-licensed dispensaries will be allowed to expand beyond medical uses. Individual communities, however, can restrict or ban cannabis sales.
A medical marijuana dispensary in Mundelein called the Clinic Mundelein has been granted a state license for recreational sales, but village officials haven't yet decided if they'll allow such transactions. If trustees opt to ban recreational marijuana sales, the Clinic's recreational license will be declared inactive.
Mundelein isn't the only town debating the issue.
Arlington Heights, Elgin, Buffalo Grove, Island Lake and Wauconda are among the towns leaning toward allowing sales. Conversely, Naperville, Long Grove, Grayslake and Lake Zurich voted to ban sales.
Monday's meeting in Mundelein marked the second time this month people filled the boardroom to let trustees know how they feel about the issue. They did so Sept. 9, too. But Monday's crowd was significantly larger.
Some opponents even wore matching "Opt Out" T-shirts.
Mundelein resident Wendy Meister-Louria noted that many towns are opposing local recreational sales. If Mundelein votes to allow such businesses, the town could become "the weed capital of Lake County," she said.
Diamond Lake School District 76 board member Jon Hauptman said he's concerned about the normalization of marijuana use. He was among several speakers who noted that children are able to get vaping products even though they're too young to legally buy them -- and he expects the same will be the case when it comes to marijuana.
On the other side of the issue, Mundelein resident Lesley Chavez asked if there was any difference between smoking marijuana and enjoying a glass of wine or a beer, both of which are legal for anyone 21 or older.
Other speakers included military veterans and people with medical issues who said marijuana has helped them deal with pain, anxiety and other problems.
Public comment on the issue lasted more than three hours. Mundelein trustees had taken no action as of late Monday.