Arlington Heights to reconsider ban on recreational pot sales

  • The Arlington Heights village board on Monday will hold discussions about reversing its ban on recreational marijuana sales in town. The board enacted the ban in November.

    The Arlington Heights village board on Monday will hold discussions about reversing its ban on recreational marijuana sales in town. The board enacted the ban in November. Associated Press

  • The sole medical marijuana dispensary in Arlington Heights, Verilife, has sought permission to sell to recreational users. The village board on Monday is set to reconsider its ban on recreational sales.

      The sole medical marijuana dispensary in Arlington Heights, Verilife, has sought permission to sell to recreational users. The village board on Monday is set to reconsider its ban on recreational sales. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer, 2018

 
 
Posted7/10/2020 5:30 AM

With the state raking in millions of dollars from legalized recreational marijuana and towns starting to collect local taxes this month, the Arlington Heights village board is set to reconsider the suburb's ban on sales.

The majority of the nine-member elected panel favors "at least exploring the possibility of revisiting our prior vote," said Mayor Tom Hayes, who remains staunchly opposed to recreational pot sales in town.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The mayor and trustees will have a discussion during a virtual committee-of-the-whole meeting at 7 p.m. Monday. The session can be viewed live on the village's website, vah.com, and members of the public will be able to participate.

The board voted 5-3 to ban pot sales in November, and with all members present during an October committee meeting, it took a 6-3 early-preference vote against pot sales.

But at least two trustees who supported the ban were on the fence, having initially expressed a willingness to allow sales, then skepticism that annual tax revenue projections of up to $500,000 would come to fruition.

One of the swing votes is Trustee John Scaletta, who told Village Manager Randy Recklaus he would be willing to reconsider the issue.

"I think I was never an adamant 'no.' I just wanted to understand what the impact would be to communities that allowed recreational marijuana," Scaletta said. "I think some time has gone by for us to reevaluate our position."

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While some suburbs were ready to flip the switch on pot sales when legalization took effect Jan. 1, others have taken steps only in recent weeks to allow dispensaries.

Last month, the Prospect Heights planning and zoning board of appeals recommended approval of Zen Leaf's application to operate a dispensary at 1434 N. Rand Road.

In Rosemont, village officials set up zoning rules governing where shops could go, and that could include the prominent Parkway Bank Park entertainment district.

Arlington Heights is already home to a medical marijuana dispensary -- Verilife, at 1816 S. Arlington Heights Road -- which was among the dozens of medical shops given first shot by the state to add recreational sales. But state law allowed Arlington Heights' board to overrule that approval.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

While Verilife officials didn't respond to a request for comment, Hayes said they have asked the village board to reconsider its prior vote based on new developments, including the financial impact of recreational sales for government coffers.

The state has reaped $52.7 million in taxes in the first five months marijuana sales have been legal, far above the $28 million estimated.

Collections of a local 3% tax that towns and counties could tack on began July 1.

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