DuPage County will tax recreational marijuana sales, but bans shops in unincorporated areas

  • Jennifer Taylor of Naperville urges DuPage County Board members on Tuesday to prohibit the sale of recreational marijuana. The board agreed to prohibit cultivation centers, craft growers and other adult-use cannabis businesses in unincorporated parts of the county.

      Jennifer Taylor of Naperville urges DuPage County Board members on Tuesday to prohibit the sale of recreational marijuana. The board agreed to prohibit cultivation centers, craft growers and other adult-use cannabis businesses in unincorporated parts of the county. Robert Sanchez | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 10/23/2019 8:41 AM

DuPage County will tax recreational marijuana businesses in municipalities, but won't allow the establishments to operate in unincorporated areas.

County board members voted 10-8 Tuesday to approve an ordinance prohibiting cultivation centers, craft growers and other adult-use cannabis businesses in unincorporated parts of DuPage.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"I think it was the right decision by the county board," Chairman Dan Cronin said after the meeting. "I expect that this issue will come before us again in the future."

The vote came after officials spent months reviewing how DuPage could be affected if it allowed businesses to sell marijuana under Illinois' Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act, which will make recreational use and possession by adults legal beginning Jan. 1.

On Tuesday, the board heard from residents who spoke against the sale of recreational marijuana.

DuPage board members who agreed to prohibit recreational marijuana businesses argued that the establishments would cause adverse impacts on the health, safety and welfare of residents.

"My opposition to this really comes from public health reasons," board member Tim Elliott said. "The public health data is clear."

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The Glen Ellyn Republican said marijuana legalization will create a variety of problems, including increased cannabis use and addiction. He said the county shouldn't profit from such sales.

Elliott said Illinois lawmakers who supported legalizing marijuana "want county boards to take a share of their responsibility" by allowing such sales.

"Springfield is offering us a piece of the action in exchange for our share of responsibility for what I'm certain is going to be a public health problem," he said. "Let's not be a party to this."

Still, six of the county board's seven Democrats and two of its 11 Republicans voted against the prohibition and in favor of the sale.

Board member Sheila Rutledge said DuPage should allow the sale in unincorporated areas "because we are a community that lets people decide what it is that is important in their lives."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"The shame that all the people are attaching to this substance is misplaced," the West Chicago Democrat said. "There are far more harmful substances to our communities beyond this."

While recreational pot sales won't be allowed in unincorporated areas, the board voted 12-6 to impose a 3% tax on all retail sales of recreational cannabis in municipalities.

The board members who voted against the tax are Republicans Elliott and Sean Noonan and Democrats Elizabeth Chaplin, Dawn DeSart, Mary Ozog and Rutledge.

But board member Robert Larsen said he couldn't find a reason why DuPage wouldn't tax facilities in the municipalities.

The Wheaton Republican said DuPage is expected to have increased law enforcement costs and other expenses and the tax will provide revenue to help deal with those costs.

Board member Grant Eckhoff said he agreed the tax is needed, but "I don't think the amount of the tax that we're going to receive is going to be enough to offset the cost to the county."

County health department officials have said the availability of recreational marijuana is expected to increase use among adults and youths and hurt the health of residents.

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