One year after imposing pot sales ban, Lake Zurich board open to revisiting issue

  • Lake Zurich board members said this week they were open to again discussing allowing recreational marijuana sales around a year after voting 5-1 to impose a ban.

      Lake Zurich board members said this week they were open to again discussing allowing recreational marijuana sales around a year after voting 5-1 to impose a ban. Paul Valade | Staff Photographer, 2012

 
 
Updated 9/23/2020 6:30 PM

Most Lake Zurich village board members say they are open to revisiting their decision to ban recreational marijuana sales in town.

The board voted 5-1 to impose the ban last September, when officials said they would discuss the matter again in a year.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Three trustees who voted for ban said Monday they were open to doing that.

"While I adhere to my same opinion as I sit here today, I have an open mind and am willing to listen," said Trustee Mary Beth Euker, who last year said she didn't think the additional tax revenue would be worth allowing recreational marijuana sales.

Trustees Greg Weider and Jonathan Sprawka said they'd take another look and referenced tax revenue if legal sales were permitted.

"There's some potential revenue issues we might want to keep an open mind to," Weider said. "I don't know if my position has dramatically changed but I try to keep an open mind knowing that some of the revenue issues the village is facing has changed."

Trustees Jim Beaudoin and Marc Spaccone voted for the ban and missed Monday's meeting with excused absences.

Money generated from the marijuana tax is split many ways.

The state's general fund gets 35%, a community development revitalization program for areas affected by the criminalization of marijuana gets 25%, while 20% goes to substance abuse and mental health programs and 10% goes toward the state's bill backlog. Local government law enforcement agencies receive 8%, and 2% goes to public education and analysis of marijuana legalization.

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Since recreational weed became legal in January, the state has collected $86 million in taxes, according to the Illinois Department of Revenue.

Lake Zurich officials said the village has received only around $6,000 of the marijuana tax revenue from the state so far.

Sprawka called that amount a small drop in the bucket and said he would like to get a better sense of the sales tax revenue available if a recreational marijuana dispensary opened in town. He asked village staff to provide estimates.

Village Manager Ray Keller said even if the village did not have the ban in place, it is unlikely a business operator would have been able to open. The first recreational licenses went only to companies that already had a medical marijuana dispensary, which the village lacks, Keller said. He added the state is set to issue another 75 recreational licenses via a lottery this fall.

"Now's a good time to reconsider because if there is a good opportunity, if this is something that might be a fit for Lake Zurich, then under what conditions, locations and so forth we can craft that language and work with businesses who might be more interested in coming to us." Keller said.

Trustee Janice Gannon, who voted against the ban, said Monday nothing about her support for recreational marijuana sales has changed.

"I was completely in favor of it and am now," Gannon said.

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