Six months or a year? Glen Ellyn trustees to vote on temporary pot sales ban

  • Glen Ellyn trustees are considering placing a temporary ban on recreational marijuana sales within the village for at least six months.

    Glen Ellyn trustees are considering placing a temporary ban on recreational marijuana sales within the village for at least six months. Associated Press

 
 
Updated 11/11/2019 11:59 PM

Glen Ellyn trustees will vote Tuesday to impose a temporary ban on recreational marijuana shops as officials keep a wary eye on the state's legal pot industry.

The village board will consider two draft ordinances that specify how long the moratorium would last. One would prohibit recreational sales for at least six months, and the other would enact a one-year ban.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Some board members have said they want to take a wait-and-see approach to revisit public health and safety questions once the market establishes itself in towns that are welcoming dispensaries.

Lombard, Glen Ellyn's neighbor to the east, will allow such businesses on Roosevelt Road and in districts designated for offices or industrial use. Wheaton has adopted an outright ban.

During an initial discussion on whether to allow recreational sales, Trustee Craig Pryde said he didn't see a need "to rush to make a judgment at this point."

"Whether we allow it here or not doesn't mean a resident in Glen Ellyn can't go to Lombard, buy it and bring it back to Glen Ellyn," Pryde said. "We haven't really prevented anything other than the opportunity to buy it in our own community."

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Trustee Steve Thompson has said he supports the decriminalization of marijuana, medical access laws and the removal of the drug's status as a Schedule 1 narcotic at the federal level.

"I also support the SAFE Banking Act, which seeks to provide protections to financial institutions that work with state-licensed cannabis businesses, extending them the same protections afforded other businesses," Thompson said. "But not until the federal government updates its laws do I support Glen Ellyn selling recreational cannabis."

Late last month, Trustee Kelli Christiansen said she was leaning toward allowing a dispensary but wasn't opposed to "further research."

"What I have found is truly for every statistic, there's an equally compelling statistic to the contrary," she said. "Every point has a counterpoint. As such, it's my opinion that most of the perceived risks are in fact uncertainties. Much of our opposition seems to be based on fears and what-if's of what might happen. We simply do not know for certain that we will see an increase in drug abuse, overdoses or crime. We have no indisputable answers for fears and what-if's. We cannot put into figures at this time the dollar cost associated with those concerns."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

But she also urged the village to keep in mind the possible opportunity costs from "putting this aside too long." A local recreational dispensary, Christiansen said, would provide Glen Ellyn patients with greater access to marijuana.

"Many of our residents here, neighbors of ours, suffer from diseases and ailments that are not covered by medical marijuana," Christiansen said. "Some of them cannot afford the required licensing, which can cost hundreds of dollars. Some are unable to drive or otherwise make their way to medical dispensaries that are located out of town."

The state will issue up to 75 retail dispensary licenses before May 1. Existing medical cannabis dispensaries can get a head start with early approval licenses to either sell recreational marijuana on site or at a different location. Up to 110 licenses will be available by December 2021.

Municipalities can place local sales taxes of up to 3% on recreational marijuana sales. Financial planners estimate the village could receive between $100,000 and $480,000 in annual revenue if a dispensary opened and the village assessed the full 3% tax.

Under the draft ordinances, the six-month and one-year moratoriums would expire in April 1, and Oct. 1, 2020, respectively, unless the board terminated or extended the ban.

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