Gurnee board bans recreational pot sales in village
Gurnee village trustees voted unanimously Monday to ban recreational marijuana businesses from operating in town.
The vote came after the village conducted two surveys of residents, one by phone and one online, producing mixed results. In the phone survey, 54.1% of the 1,274 people questioned opposed allowing the sale of marijuana for recreational use in the village. About 69% of the 1,654 respondents to the online survey favored allowing sales.
"The community is evenly divided on whether they want recreational dispensaries," Mayor Kristina Kovarik said. "But for right now, we don't feel that dispensaries are the right fit."
Recreational marijuana use will be legal in Illinois for adults 21 and over beginning Jan. 1. Municipalities cannot outlaw possession of marijuana, but they can ban its sale within town limits. If they opt to allow sales, they can impose a 3% sales tax on top of state taxes.
Towns across Lake County have split on the issue, with Libertyville, Grayslake, Long Grove, Lake Zurich and Vernon Hills banning recreational marijuana sales, and Buffalo Grove, Mundelein, North Chicago and Zion among those allowing them.
"We can change it down the line, but the input for the time being was we wanted to sit back and see how this plays out," Village Administrator Patrick Muetz said.
Kovarik said the estimated revenue from the 3% sales tax was around $40,000 to $60,000 -- not enough to counter concerns about damaging the village's brand.
"The village doesn't have a property tax, so we're very reliant on sales tax," she said. "So we aggressively protect all our retail corridors."
The ordinance banning recreational marijuana sales was approved without public comment, but officials said they received emails and phone calls on the issue over the weekend.
"When something is this divided, it's hard," Kovarik said. "And that's the good thing about an ordinance. You can always change it in the future."