West Dundee adopts 3% marijuana tax, leans toward allowing retail sales

  • Marijuana grows at an indoor cannabis farm in Gardena, Calif.

    Marijuana grows at an indoor cannabis farm in Gardena, Calif. Associated press

 
 
Updated 9/24/2019 5:10 PM

The debate over whether to permit or ban recreational marijuana sales has entered West Dundee, where most trustees this week said they support "opting in" when a new state law takes effect Jan. 1.

During its first discussion on the topic Monday, the village board voted 5-1 to direct staff members to explore zoning regulations for possible retail operations, which could include dispensaries, cultivation centers or on-site consumption lounges.

 

Under the Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act, municipalities can't outlaw adult possession or use, but they can set limitations for when, where and how many of each type of business are allowed to operate. West Dundee trustees are expected to consider those special use parameters at a future meeting. The board would have to formally adopt an ordinance at a later date.

"The special use provision gives us a lot of authority to decide what comes in," Village President Chris Nelson said. "There are a lot of steps, (and) I think we're all touching on the right notes."

The village board also unanimously approved imposing a 3% cannabis retailers' occupation tax, scheduled to be applied Sept. 1, 2020 -- nine months after the new law goes into effect. The Illinois Municipal League has requested a legislative amendment that would eliminate that time lag, in which case towns would need to approve the tax by Oct. 1 to start collecting revenue Jan. 1.

"One of the things most municipalities are doing is passing this tax ordinance now as another way of pressuring (the General Assembly)," Attorney Kathleen Field Orr said. "You've got nothing to lose."

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Trustee Michelle Kembitzky added that the village could always consider lowering the tax rate in the future as an incentive for attracting dispensaries or other businesses.

A prosecutor by trade, Trustee Dan Wilbrandt said he's conflicted on whether to support retail marijuana operations in town.

"This is a really hard one for me," he said. "Illinois passed a law that says this is legal ... so I'm not opposed to opting in, but I'm also not really in favor of cannabis."

West Dundee officials will need to decide how they want to regulate various possession or use violations, such as underage consumption, Trustee Patrick Hanley said. He cast the lone "no" vote against beginning the process to allow cannabis sales but acknowledged that "it's going to be in our village" regardless.

The board directed Field Orr to draft a chapter for the village's code book outlining local ordinance violations related to recreational marijuana.

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