Lisle could vote next month to prohibit recreational pot sales

Lisle is poised to become the latest suburban community to ban the sale of recreational cannabis.

The village board has directed staff members to prepare an ordinance to prohibit recreational marijuana dispensaries. A final vote is expected Oct. 7.

Most trustees voiced support for a ban during a special meeting 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 across the state beginning Jan. 1.

"I would prefer to opt out," Trustee Kelly Dixit said. "There are too many questions that are unanswered today. We don't have enough time to set up the parameters and the guidelines within our own village to undertake this."

Before trustees spoke, they spent most of the 3½-hour meeting last week listening to presentations from experts and comments from residents.

The consideration of a ban is being done over the objections of two trustees - Stephen Winz and Sara Sadat - who said voters should decide the issue through a referendum.

"It seems to me that this board wants to make the decision for the community when the community should have an opportunity to do more research," Winz said.

If a question about recreational marijuana sales is put on a ballot, Winz said, "we can get a better idea of what the community actually does support or doesn't support."

But Mayor Christopher Pecak said opting out gives the village the chance to pursue a ballot question in the future. If the village opts in, a dispensary could open in Lisle before a referendum could occur.

"We could never put the genie back in the bottle and opt out" later, he said. "We can't have a referendum if we opt in."

Trustee Cathy Cawiezel said Jan. 1 is "way too soon" for Lisle to prepare for the sale of recreational cannabis. Opting out gives the village more time to get ready.

"It would also allow time for more discussion," she said. "Perhaps we'd want to have an opinion referendum."

In the meantime, Cawiezel said she doesn't believe Lisle would benefit from allowing recreational marijuana dispensaries.

"I see nothing good that could come from this," she said.

But Sadat said about 60 percent of the hundreds of residents she's spoken to want the village to allow a recreational marijuana dispensaries.

Towns that permit cannabis sales are allowed to place local sales taxes of up to 3% on the sales. Sadat said that extra tax revenue would benefit Lisle.

Instead of approving a ban, Sadat said the board should further study the issue and have "a proper discussion with the public."

However, Trustee Anthony Carballo said allowing recreational marijuana sales would send the wrong message to Lisle children, especially when the DARE program is telling them to stay away from drugs.

"In my opinion, it would be hypocritical for me to go to DARE graduations," Carballo said, "and then to vote to promote the recreational use of drugs in our community."

He said he "really doesn't care" about the potential tax revenue.

"My feeling is that this is not something that would benefit," Carballo said. "I think it would hurt our town. It would make our town look bad."

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