Village of Downers Grove expects to not legalize cannabis product sales


Tatum Mitchell

Despite community support, the village of Downers Grove is expected to not legalize cannabis product sales.

The legal sale of cannabis products in Downers Grove is currently being discussed by the village council, a ruling will be made on Oct. 8, 2019. Mayor Bob Barnett said the expected decision will be that Downers Grove will not sell cannabis products.

“It seems likely that … we will vote as a council to not allow any cannabis-based businesses to operate in our village,” Barnett said. 

Following the state of Illinois passing a bill to legalize the recreational use and possession of up to 30 grams of cannabis for those 21 and older, the village council of Downers Grove has been conversing on the topic of legalizing sales. 

In terms of the community reaction, Barnett estimated that two-thirds of the Downers Grove community is in favor of the legal sale of cannabis products. Village Commissioner Greg Hosé also said that the reaction from residents has been mostly positive. 

The resident e-mails we had received on the topic were 5 to 1 in favor of allowing cannabis-based businesses in Downers Grove,” Hosé said.

Hosé himself believes that the sale of cannabis products should be legalized and regulated similarly to alcohol.

“We rightly celebrate the opening of craft brewers in Downers Grove, attend ribbon cuttings at restaurants that serve alcohol, and work with theaters and other establishments to find ways to modify our Liquor Ordinance to aid local businesses while maintaining safety.  No one has made an argument yet that convinces me why cannabis sale should be regulated any differently than the sale of alcohol,” Hosé said. 

Senior Katarina Stanley spoke on why she believes Downers Grove should sell cannabis products and the implications that decision has.

“I [would] say that they should sell it if it becomes legalized. [Using] cannabis-related products will be normal in Illinois, and even though Downers Grove is a big hub for public events and underage kids, it is still a town that has to serve and speak to all people,” Stanley said.

Social Studies teacher Derek Hoovel believes that this brings up the topic of substances in relation to student health and development.

“My belief is that it is not necessary for Downers Grove to allow cannabis sales in the village. 

Thinking of DGS, with the upcoming legalization in the State of Illinois, events such as Red Ribbon Week [and] Snowball, … become even more important to the mission of our school,” Hoovel said.

While health risks are a concern for some, Hosé said the village of Downers Grove would receive sales tax revenue from cannabis product sales, as well as an added 3% sales tax.

“Our residents will purchase the products elsewhere and neighboring towns will benefit from the tax dollars.  Estimates ranged from $150,000 to $500,000 in sales tax dollars to the Village of Downers Grove,” Hosé said. 

According to Hosé, discussion on the topic began on Sept. 3, 2019. He spoke on how the process went. 

“The majority of the council has handled the issue terribly.  One week after saying they were in favor of sending the issue to the Plan Commission, … [they] instead voted to direct staff to prepare an ordinance opting out of all cannabis-based businesses in Downers Grove,” Hosé said.


Update: Read about the village board meeting (click here):