Vernon Hills says no to recreational marijuana sales
Vernon Hills has become the most recent Lake County community to ban the sale of marijuana for recreational use.
As expected, the village board on Tuesday unanimously approved an ordinance prohibiting cannabis businesses in town when the sale and possession of recreational marijuana becomes legal in Illinois on Jan. 1.
Vernon Hills officials on Oct. 15 directed village staff draft the ordinance prohibiting sales, so Tuesday's decision was a formality.
"It's a pretty big subject across a bunch of villages in Lake County, but at the end of the day over 700 residents here voiced their opinion for us to opt out," said Trustee Craig Takaoka.
He noted that 70% of communities in states that have legalized recreational marijuana have opted out on allowing sales.
"So, what we're doing is nothing extraordinary and it's really just basing it on the feedback we got from the community," he added.
The vast majority of speakers at a special meeting held by the village Sept. 24 at Vernon Hills High School said they wanted to prohibit marijuana businesses, including retail dispensaries.
Communities that approve sales can impose an additional 3% sales tax, but some towns have decided the predicted revenues would not be worth the potential problems and related costs.
Trustee Thom Koch, a longtime public school teacher, reminded residents that marijuana will be legal to use by those 21 and over.
"There's nothing we can do to stop that," he said.
He said residents should pay attention to other dangerous activities as well, such as vaping. He was disappointed at the low turnout at an Oct. 17 town hall meeting on vaping at Libertyville High School, hosted by 51st District state Rep. Mary Edly-Allen.
"There were almost as many people presenting (information) as there were people in the audience," he said.
In Lake County, Vernon Hills joins Tower Lakes, Lake Zurich, Barrington, Long Grove, Mettawa, Lake Forest, Highland Park, Bannockburn, Libertyville, Hainesville and Grayslake in banning sales.
Buffalo Grove, Mundelein, North Chicago, Wadsworth, Zion and Winthrop Harbor have approved sales.