Will recreational pot sales in Palatine start out like the 'wild, wild West'?
Palatine will allow recreational marijuana businesses to operate in certain parts of the village, but pot sales won't start there right away.
Only existing medical cannabis dispensaries are eligible for the initial recreational licenses that allow for sales to begin at the start of the new year, and there are no such businesses in Palatine. The first round of general applications started Tuesday and will run through Jan. 2 for another 75 retail marijuana licenses, including 47 in the Chicago area, to be awarded by May 1.
Recreational pot possession and use by those 21 and older becomes legal in Illinois on Jan. 1. Towns can't outlaw its use, but they are allowed to prohibit businesses that sell it or restrict their location.
Palatine Councilman Kollin Kozlowski, who was on the minority side of a 4-3 village council vote this week allowing the pot retailers, said he would have preferred to first monitor how the new industry is operating before making the decision. Towns that opt out of immediately permitting the marijuana businesses may reverse course.
"It going to be wild, wild West the first month," Kozlowski said, "and I'd rather have our guns in our holster waiting to see how it settles down, review it after a while."
Village council members at a meeting Monday approved the maximum 3% local tax for the potential marijuana sales in highway business districts, such as North Rand Road, and some manufacturing areas under a special-use permit. The village also received confirmation its local 1% food and beverage tax applies to baked goods, candies, drinks and other prepared offerings.
One marijuana dispensary could produce $200,000 to $400,000 in annual sales taxes, according to village research. Palatine projections indicate legal pot use could increase annual police costs by $179,800, which could be covered in part by the sales tax revenue.
That revenue also could be used to help fund a village social worker specializing in substance abuse and mental health issues, as well as capital projects and other nonoperational expenses.
Councilman Scott Lamerand, who voted with the majority to allow the retail businesses, said Palatine residents will get to legally use the drug regardless of whether it's sold in the village. He said the sales tax will help cover needs that might arise from residents' recreational marijuana use.
"There will be costs, whatever those costs are," Lamerand said. "We can debate, but we don't know if we're going to need a social worker yet. We don't know how much (police) overtime we're going to need. We don't know how many car accidents we're going to have that's going to tie up police officer time, all those types of things."
Palatine village council members held three marijuana-related votes. Councilmen voted 6-0 in favor of the 3% local tax.
Next, Brad Helms and Tim Millar joined Kozlowski in voting to opt out of allowing the pot retailers, with Lamerand, Doug Myslinski and Greg Solberg opposed to opting out. Mayor Jim Schwantz voted against opting out and broke the 3-3 tie, opening the door to allowing the businesses.
"The state dropped something on our plate and now we have to manage it," Lamerand said. "And how do we best do that to protect the community and look out for our own interests?"
Millar and Helms were the dissenters in the third vote on zoning regulations for marijuana retailers, which must be at least 1,500 feet from schools and day-care facilities. Millar questioned the revenue benefits from the pot retailers and how they fit with Palatine's community image.