Public comment on recreational pot goes on for hours in Buffalo Grove
Residents wearing orange and white "OPT OUT" T-shirts filled the seats in Buffalo Grove village hall Monday.
For hours, they lined up to raise their voices against allowing recreational marijuana sales in town.
They began speaking shortly after 8 p.m. At 10:45 p.m., they were still addressing the trustees, who were scheduled to vote on the issue Monday night but were still listening to comments at close to midnight Tuesday.
The item was at the bottom of the agenda but was at the top of mind for the standing-room-only crowd. The gathering flowed into the hallway and spilled into another room at village hall.
Trustees heard impassioned testimony from residents urging the village to ban sales. Several cited the drug's effect on youth.
"We're sending the wrong message to young people. It's not OK to smoke dope," said Eleanor Hesse,
Mike Hill, who described himself as a parent of a drug user, said today's marijuana is highly addictive, with a high THC level.
"Pot demotivates both kids and adults. Period. End of story," he said.
William Pollack, a chiropractor who said his son was a pallbearer for "three of his best friends" at Stevenson High School, also warned of the dangers of marijuana.
"Anyone who thinks that marijuana is not an entry-level drug is delusional," Pollack said.
Carson Ezell, a student at Stevenson High School, pointed to Denver County, Colorado, where, he said, the number of offenses related to marijuana has more than quadrupled within 1,000 feet of schools since the legalization of recreational pot.
Other residents gave a counter-argument.
Kevin Sullivan, who said he uses medical marijuana, said having a recreational marijuana dispensary would be no different from having a liquor store, which residents could choose not to patronize.
"I want to see the village take a chance on something," he added, noting that the village could use the additional tax revenue.
Craig Kral also supports legalization, saying it should have happened years ago.
"I sense there is a lot of fear in this room," Kral said. But he added that zoning restrictions should assuage those fears, limiting the sale to areas that would not affect most the residents.
Recreational use of marijuana by those 21 and older will become legal in Illinois on Jan. 1. Under state law, municipalities cannot outlaw marijuana use, but they can ban or restrict businesses that sell it. Towns that allow marijuana businesses can impose an additional 3% tax on sales.
The regulations on the table in Buffalo Grove would allow two recreational cannabis dispensaries as a special use, requiring applicants to go through a public hearing and receive village board approval.
Regulations would restrict the sale to the industrial and three of the five business zones. Sale would not be allowed in the Town Center or business services and wholesale districts.
In addition, a dispensary could not be located within 1,000 feet of the property line of a preexisting school or day care center.
The ordinance also would prohibit recreational dispensaries from operating as a cultivation center, craft grower or a processing, infuser or transporting organization. On-site consumption would be outlawed.
Applicants for recreational dispensary licenses would also have to have a medical dispensing license.