Downers Grove opts out of recreational cannabis sales

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Downers Grove opts out of recreational cannabis sales

The Downers Grove Village Council listens as local residents share their thoughts on whether or not the village should opt out of selling recreational marijuana.

The Downers Grove Village Council listens as local residents share their thoughts on whether or not the village should opt out of selling recreational marijuana.

Paul Szmanda

The Downers Grove Village Council listens as local residents share their thoughts on whether or not the village should opt out of selling recreational marijuana.

Paul Szmanda

Paul Szmanda

The Downers Grove Village Council listens as local residents share their thoughts on whether or not the village should opt out of selling recreational marijuana.

The Downers Grove Village Council voted 4 to 3 to opt out of allowing the sale of recreational cannabis in the village. The decision was made at the Oct. 8 council meeting after three hours of commentary from a packed village hall.

Before commentary on the original ordinance began, Commissioner Greg Hosé proposed an amendment. This came in the form of a sunset clause that would expire the ordinance effective Jan. 1, 2021. The council would have to revisit the issue in order to extend the effects of the proposed ordinance.

Hosé said this would act as a “pause button” to allow the council more time to research the subject and to view and learn from what happens in neighboring communities that have voted to allow the sale of recreational cannabis in their town.

Some in the audience, as well as on the council, were disappointed in the manner in which the amendment was suggested, saying that it came as a last-minute surprise. Commissioner Nicole Walus was among those upset with the amendment.

“It took me by complete surprise, and I think many other people in the room. I voted against that because, as I stated earlier, I don’t feel comfortable putting things exactly on the books to talk about this when we have so many other issues that have been brought up,” Walus said.

The amendment ultimately failed in a 4-to-3 vote.

The discussion of the original proposal began with commentary from attendees of the event. On the opt-in side, the primary argument was an economic one. People argued that recreational cannabis businesses would provide a large source of sales tax revenues for the village. 

Resident Paul Wurster feels that Downers Grove will otherwise lose control over the sales of recreational cannabis.

“If you’re going to be able to drive five minutes over to Downers Grove to go to a shop there, Downers Grove loses all control of how we’re going to administer this and how we’re going to regulate it,” Wurster said

A number of audience members came to speak who were wearing “opt-out” stickers, and their concerns came in a wide range. One Downers Grove resident of 25 years stated her concern that the decision was not made democratically.

“[Illinois] was the first out of 11 states to do it [legalize recreational cannabis] by legislation and not give the people of Illinois a vote. … We were given no voice. Let Downers Grove be that tiny voice,” she said.

Resident Christine Martin spoke about her belief that allowing recreational cannabis sales would send a negative message to the community youth. “Even if one teenager dies because his or her community thought it was OK to send the message to kids that recreational marijuana is no big deal, that is not acceptable,” Martin said. 

Downers Grove joins Naperville, Bolingbrook and Plainfield in not allowing recreational cannabis sales.

 

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