Elmhurst says no to recreational cannabis sales

Elmhurst is beginning the process to opt out of recreational marijuana sales when Illinois state law changes on Jan. 1.

Aldermen voted Monday to move forward with preparations to exempt Elmhurst from the state legislation and ban such sales.

Alderman Michael Honquest, chairman of the council's development, planning and zoning committee, listed three reasons for opposing marijuana dispensaries.

First, he said the law is "confusing and poorly written," with the state already planning to bring it back for rewrites during veto session.

Second, he cited the committee's concerns about the all-cash nature of cannabis shops. (Because marijuana sales are still illegal under federal law, the businesses usually cannot use the banking system.)

Third, he said the majority of residents in his ward and throughout the city seem to oppose such sales.

Alderman Scott Levin said he does not share concerns over the law's language or the all-cash nature of the businesses. But he said the city should opt out because of the overall lack of support for cannabis sales in the city.

"It's not what Elmhurst wants," Levin said, comparing the move to the city's decision to ban video gambling.

Bill Perry, an Elmhurst resident who has spoken in favor of bringing a dispensary to town during prior committee meetings, spoke during the public forum.

"I'm not naive; I don't expect this council to approve a dispensary in Elmhurst ... but I like tilting at windmills, so here I go," he said.

He called the city's opposition "unreasonable."

The argument that marijuana is a bad fit doesn't make sense in light of the city's vape shops, cigar shops and bars.

"The dispensary is going to fit right in," Perry said. "And then you can go to the ice cream shop and the candy store and the restaurants."

Alderman Mark Mulliner said the next steps will require numerous amendments to the city's zoning ordinances.

Several alderman said the issue could be revisited.

"We don't have to be first in," Levin said. "Times may change, but here we are in 2019, and this is not what I'm hearing from people in the city of Elmhurst."

Aldermen Noel Talluto and Jim Kennedy were absent; all others voted to approve the resolution

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