Naperville City Council members this week voted to opt out of the sale of recreational marijuana when the law goes into effect statewide in January. The temporary opt-out will be in place until council members receive the results of a proposed referendum.
Over 200 Naperville residents came to the meeting Tuesday to share their views on legal marijuana sales in their community. Councilman Kevin Coyne, who is against the sale of recreational marijuana, said expanding access will lead to harder drug use resulting in “delinquencies and truancy among young people.”
Last week, the state awarded five recreational marijuana licenses that are going to dispensaries in Naperville, Mundelein, Joliet, Effingham and Canton. A medical cannabis dispensary located in Naperville is one of the five recipients.
Councilwoman Judith Brodhead, who supports the sale of recreational marijuana, does not believe it will be harmful to the city. “A small number of adult-use cannabis will not be detrimental to Naperville. [We can] carefully chose the location it wouldn’t be legally available [to anyone] under 21,” she said.
Naperville Mayor Steve Chirico is also backing the sale of recreational marijuana. He views it as an opportunity for increased revenue.
If voters choose to opt out, the ban would remain in place. If they decide to opt in, then the city council will begin the zoning process to determine how many dispensaries they’ll allow and where they would be located.
In June, Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed into law House Bill 1438 approving recreational use of marijuana for adults over the age of 21.
“Legalizing adult-use cannabis brings an important and overdue change to our state, and it’s the right thing to do,” Pritzker said in a statement in June. “This legislation will clear the cannabis-related records of nonviolent offenders through an efficient combination of automatic expungement, gubernatorial pardon and individual court action.”
The law would create a $30 million low-interest loan program to help with start-up costs and expunge the records of people with criminal records for purchasing or possessing 30 grams of marijuana or less.
The Illinois Department of Revenue projects that the new law will generate over $57 million in tax revenue and licensing fees in the next year, according to figures released by the state.
Illinois is the 11th state to legalize recreational marijuana use.