Mundelein officials still are weighing whether they should allow or ban recreational marijuana sales within the village, even after the state recently granted a medical marijuana dispensary in the village permission to start selling the drug for recreational use on Jan. 1.
Village President Steve Lentz said the state’s decision late last month to award one of Illinois’ first five recreational licenses to The Clinic, 1325 Armour Boulevard, Mundelein, does not force village officials to vote on the issue sooner than they’ve planned.
Village Administrator John Lobaito also recently noted how the community appears to be divided on whether the village should allow for recreational marijuana sales, despite the village permitting The Clinic to do business in the village with medical marijuana patients five years ago.
Officials have said the issue of recreational marijuana sales comes with its own unique set of questions that village board members have been studying since Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed the bill earlier this summer legalizing marijuana use throughout Illinois on Jan. 1.
“Everyone has until Jan. 1 to decide if they’re going to opt in, under what circumstances and whether they’re going to opt out,” Lentz said. “We’re going to bring it to the board sometime in the fall. Probably next month is what we’re looking for.”
Officials in Naperville were put in a similar position following the state’s announcement in August that it had awarded the first five licenses to medical marijuana dispensaries owned by Chicago-based Green Thumb Industries, which oversees the Mundelein location and 3C Compassionate Care Center, a dispensary in Naperville.
The Naperville City Council ultimately voted Sept. 3 to prohibit the sale of recreational marijuana within the city’s boundaries, meaning 3C Compassionate Care Center will not be able to sell recreational cannabis in Naperville once the new law goes into effect at the start of 2020. It also remains unclear what will happen with the license now that Naperville has opted out of retail sales.
Under the law, state officials allowed the 55 medical dispensaries in Illinois to apply immediately for licenses to start selling recreational weed from their existing locations, giving them first access to an emerging and, what is expected to be, a lucrative market in the coming years.
Mundelein officials could follow Naperville’s path or they could decide to create regulations and allow for recreational marijuana sales.
While the Mundelein board’s final decision isn’t expected until later this fall, village trustees recently have started to discuss the issue while also researching the pros and cons of allowing for recreational marijuana sales within the village’s borders.
“At this time, staff is still putting together a package to bring to the board,” Lentz said. “Until then, I couldn’t tell you which way it’s going to go.”
Along with uncertainty from the community, Lobaito said village board members also haven’t indicated their positions on the issue, yet.
“It’s like any major issue. There are arguments on both sides,” Lobaito said. “I have no idea if there is a majority one way or another. I just know there is a split in the community.”
Trustee Robin Meier, who voted in favor of allowing The Clinic to offer medical marijuana in 2014, recently said she still is figuring out her position on whether to allow for recreational marijuana sales. Other trustees could not be reached for comment.
“At this point, I’m still reviewing information on both sides of the issue,” Meier said, adding, "I haven’t received information from staff, yet. I’m doing my own investigation. I’m still in the process.”
As part of their initial discussions on the issue, village board members invited The Clinic’s owners, Green Thumb Industries, to present their position on the possibility of operating a recreational dispensary within Mundelein during the board’s recent meeting Sept. 9, Lentz said.
Linda Marsicano, a spokeswoman with Green Thumb Industries, said the business has had a great relationship with village officials since The Clinic opened in 2015. The dispensary was Green Thumb’s first location and holds a “special place” in the company’s history, she said.
“We look forward to continuing the conversation with the people of Mundelein about this important issue,” Marsicano said.
Board members also allowed the drug prevention group, Mundelein Stand Up, which opposes recreational marijuana sales, to talk about their stance during the board’s meeting in late August.
The presentations were meant to help board members and the public receive as much information as possible on the issue before the board’s final vote on recreational marijuana sales later this fall, Lobaito said.
Phil Rockrohr is a freelance reporter for Pioneer Press.