Village could require review for rec cannabis sales

Oak Park Plan Commission recommends special-use permit for dispensaries

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By Timothy Inklebarger

Staff Reporter

Opening a recreational cannabis dispensary in Oak Park might not be as easy as going to village hall and applying for a business license, under a recommendation the Oak Park Plan Commission is sending to the Oak Park Board of Trustees for consideration.

At the Plan Commission's meeting on Aug. 1, commissioners voted 6-0 to make require a special-use permit for marijuana dispensaries, rather than making dispensaries a permitted use under the zoning code.

That means anyone planning to open a dispensary would have to apply for a special permit to sale recreational cannabis in the village, a process that involves a public hearing and village board approval.

Village staff presented the Plan Commission with a recommendation to make recreational cannabis sales a permitted use, but commissioners were reluctant to "open the floodgates" – as Commissioner Iris Sims described it – to recreational cannabis sales.

Recreational cannabis will become legal in Illinois on Jan. 1, 2020, and Oak Park already is set to get its first dispensary. The Seven Point dispensary, 1132 Lake St., which has operated as a medical cannabis dispensary since 2016, plans to transition into recreational sales.

State law permits all medical cannabis sales facilities to automatically transition to recreational sales when the law takes effect.

Plan commissioner Lawrence Brozek said that unless the village takes action to regulate recreational cannabis sales, any new dispensary will not be subjected to a review similar to the kind that takes place for alcohol sales in the village.

To sell alcohol in Oak Park, merchants must first appear before the village's Liquor Control Review Board and the Oak Park Board of Trustees in order to receive a license.

While potential merchants of recreational cannabis will not have to acquire a license from the village to sale the drug, they would, if the Oak Park Board of Trustees takes the Plan Commission's recommendation, have to appear before either the Oak Park Zoning Board of Appeals or the Plan Commission to present their plan. It then would also need final approval by the Oak Park Board of Trustees.

This would give residents and opportunity to weigh in on any proposal for recreational sales.

Village Planner Craig Failor said special use-permits are reviewed by the Oak Park Zoning Board of Appeals, but the code gives village staff some flexibility to pitch special-use permit request to the Plan Commission if the ZBA is unable to review the request in a timely manner.

Sims voiced her general opposition to the statewide recreational cannabis legalization law, saying it is in part "driven by the economics of this state."

"This is an experiment and hasn't been studied," she said.

Some communities such as Naperville, Libertyville and Bloomingdale have recently voted to ban the sale of recreational cannabis in their municipalities.

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Reader Comments

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Liita Forsyth  

Posted: September 18th, 2019 12:05 PM

Nobody seems to be addressing the issue that cannabis sales are cash only because the businesses are not able to deposit money from sales of cannabis in any bank. And if that's the case where will they put the cash? Off shore? Swiss banks? How will municipalities and the State collect the much touted tax revenue? Selling weed is still a federal crime so Uncle Sam won't even be able to track sales either.... Imagine all that cash sitting in a dispensary along with all that weed.... pretty dangerous position for a business owner and his/her employees to be in considering the crime rate in our communities...better have a button under the counter, a locked front door and a means of self defense...oh my...Pandora's Box is going to open...

Brian Slowiak  

Posted: August 26th, 2019 7:06 AM

Check out the Chicago Sun Times article by Tom Schuba on Mon 23 Aug 2019 about how illegal marijuana sellers and growers will flourish with the coming of legalized recreational marijuana. Front page.

Brian Slowiak  

Posted: August 17th, 2019 9:56 AM

@ Jason Cohen: That ":40% of all violent crimes report that the perpetrator had been drinking." Please cite your source.

Brian Slowiak  

Posted: August 15th, 2019 5:44 PM

@ Jason Cohen:The only way to prevent all vices is from within the the person. I think it was Gen. Omar Bradley who to relieve stress did algebra problems. NFL did a story on NFL players knitting to calm themselves down. Kevin Lowe, captain of the Championship Edmonton Oilers hockey team studied his medical books on long jet flights instead of gambling and drinking after hockey games to become a doctor. There are different ways, read that positive , to relieve stress.

Bruce Kline  

Posted: August 8th, 2019 8:40 PM

Jason: Yes I agree. I misunderstood your post in regard to alcohol.

Jason Cohen  

Posted: August 8th, 2019 6:57 PM

@Bruce, you are making my point. We can't really argue that making pot legal will cause more crime as someone did here. If we make it legal we aren't going to end up with more crime. I will say that 40% of all violent crimes report that the perpetrator had been drinking. That's a staggering statistic. I think both should be legal. My point was simply that you can't support alcohol being legal and pot illegal based on possible crime problems.

Bruce Kline  

Posted: August 8th, 2019 2:39 PM

Jason: you really think banning alcohol will eliminate a ton of crime? You mean like a return to the Elliot Ness, Al Capone, Untouchable Prohibition days? You mean those crime free days?

Bruce Kline  

Posted: August 8th, 2019 2:30 PM

Thanks Mike. I would only add that the confounding variable here is the opioid crisis and the pressure (and real threats including criminal prosecution) on docs and pharmacies to really back off on opioid prescribing. So I would imagine that there would be decreased opioid prescriptions accross the board, and in states where marijuana is legal (and perception of marijuana analgesic efficacy is high) even more so.

William Dwyer Jr.  

Posted: August 8th, 2019 2:00 PM

Synthetic cannabis already exists. My late wife used prescribed synthetic cannabis for nausea when she was on chemo. As we used to say about the illegal stuff back in the day, it didn't do s**t. So we ignored the law and got the real stuff and it worked wonderfully.

Mike Hanline  

Posted: August 8th, 2019 8:58 AM

Bruce: Studies show that in states which have legalized medical marijuana, prescriptions for painkillers and other drugs (e.g., for seizures) have notably decreased. At least one pharmaceutical company is attempting to develop synthetic medical marijuana. You can't increase your own bottom line if people are growing "medicine" in their own backyards. Regardless of how effective medical marijuana may or may not actually be, enough people apparently believe it is to have made a dent in Big Pharma's sales.

William Dwyer Jr.  

Posted: August 7th, 2019 10:19 PM

Thanks for clearing that up Brian. -30-

Jason Cohen  

Posted: August 7th, 2019 10:18 PM

@Brian, do we prevent all vices in this country? Last I checked alcohol is freely sold. Casinos are everywhere. Cigarettes are at every corner. How many people die from the effects of marijuana? We can't pick and choose. If you want to eliminate a ton of crime then alcohol should be banned.

Bruce Kline  

Posted: August 7th, 2019 10:05 PM

Mike: I agree you never said that. I assumed that is what you meant because if not I just don't see why Big Pharma would see weed as a threat to their bottom line. Maybe I am oblivious to the obvious but please explain. I plead ignorance. In fact I would think Big Alcohol has a much bigger vested interest to keep weed as a schedule 1 drug.

Mike Hanline  

Posted: August 7th, 2019 3:14 PM

@Bruce Kline "You really think marijuana and CBD are miracle drugs? You are totally delusional." Thanks, but I never said that. What I did allude to was Big Pharma's lobbying efforts to keep marijuana criminalized. They obviously see it as a threat to their bottom line.

Brian Slowiak  

Posted: August 7th, 2019 2:33 PM

@ Jason Cohen: Gold is gold. Is selling a product that exposes or assists a personal weakness worth the gold?

Brian Slowiak  

Posted: August 7th, 2019 2:25 PM

@ Bill Dwyer: The point is hat drug offenses will be masked to disguise other criminal offenses. Much like Wille Sutton, we will have people robbing people of money to cash to buy recreational marijuana. So crime is displaced not recognized. Banks get robbed to his internal imbllizement ve a bad tooth. Your choice for a dentist is one that is coming off a beer buzz a dentist coming off marijuana high or a dentist that is straight and sober? Who do you want to plunge the needle into your gum and take a pliers to you bad tooth.

Jason Cohen  

Posted: August 6th, 2019 11:02 PM

The licenses to sell marijuana are like gold. The regulations around the tracking of all of the products is tough. No legal shop is going to risk any issues as that would be ridiculous. Some here make it sound like this is drug dealers opening up shops. The people involved are business people and they aren't going to have product walk out the door illegally or stolen or whatever. If some is stolen the police will be called. There are also significantly less robberies when it's legal for one simple reason. People can call the cops. Today people are robbed but they can't do anything because it's illegal. That means the criminals also know they can get away with it. In the future they could actually go to jail. The real win is that this money won't go to gangs and cartels anymore which is great.

William Dwyer Jr.  

Posted: August 6th, 2019 9:20 PM

Ok, Brian. And banks have been and will continue to be robbed for their money. Pharmacies have long been and will continue to be burglarized for narcotics. That's why we have police. Still not sure what the point is. I refer you to the famous Willie Sutton quote.

Brian Slowiak  

Posted: August 6th, 2019 8:15 PM

That sentence is clumsy and should have been written clearly. Stores and store owners will be robbed for their marijuana. Marijuana reported dropped on the floor will be resold outside of the books. People with medical marijuana will sell theirs, report it stolen and get a new script. Easily masked. Recreational marijuana will be taken in street robbery. Street robberies will be used to buy recreational marijuana. Masked. The offenses will be displaced and sometimes masked. It is sort of like fighting in the National Hockey League.The NHL has a 5 minute penalty for fighting so fighting can be called and tabulated. There is no fighting penalty in other sports, therefore no fighting to be called or tabulated, however there was fighting in a recent Cincinnati/Pirate game and foul later called was unsportsmanlike conduct, if at all.. The real offense was masked.

William Dwyer Jr.  

Posted: August 5th, 2019 10:05 PM

With respect for your experience as a cop in OP, Brian, please, tell us what "if you take the criminal aspect of possession there will either less or no crime. more than a good chance that ill be not true" means. I've read it five times and really don't get it.

Brian Slowiak  

Posted: August 5th, 2019 5:13 PM

@ Mike Hanline: Where does the quote "day of reckoning" come from?

Bruce Kline  

Posted: August 5th, 2019 10:40 AM

Well Mike I hope you are right. Congress feckless? No doubt. Beholden to big pharma on marijuana? Really? You really think marijuana and CBD are miracle drugs? You are totally delusional.

Mike Hanline  

Posted: August 5th, 2019 9:35 AM

There won't be any "day of reckoning." You can't put the genie back in the bottle now (how did Prohibition work out?). The only reason marijuana is still ridiculously classified as a Schedule 1 drug is because Congress is feckless and beholden to Big Pharma and Big Alcohol.

Bruce Kline  

Posted: August 4th, 2019 11:05 PM

No Brian, thank you! It will be interesting to see how all this plays out in regard to marijuana - particularly "medicinal" marijuana or CBD. I also find it interesting that much like our "sanctuary laws" - whereby cities in Illinois (and elsewhere) refuse to enforce federal statutes related to immigration - the exact same thing is going on here. Marijuana as a schedule 1 drug is - like heroin - illegal (on the federal level). Yet as of January 2020, Illinois will be ignoring this minor inconvenience. I am sure there will come a "day of reckoning."

Brian Slowiak  

Posted: August 4th, 2019 7:43 PM

@ BK: Thanxs for the continued enlightenment.

Bruce Kline  

Posted: August 4th, 2019 6:02 PM

Brian: The courts have empowered private employers in high risk professions i.e. aviation, trains, commercial trucking etc. to test. I am not sure if that right extends to testing without cause (random drug testing, as it does in the federal system) or testing only permitted with cause. Also consider a drug can be legal and it's consumption (past or present) still prohibited in the work place. The best example of this is alcohol. But the pharmacokinetics and dynamics of marijuana are much more complicated than alcohol, making testing more problematic.

Brian Slowiak  

Posted: August 4th, 2019 4:38 PM

@ Bill Dwyer: You are welcome for the heads up. Common thought is that if you take the criminal aspect of possession there will either less or no crime. more than a good chance that ill be not true. @ BK: the question will be will private employers have the same chance to not hire or terminate. I think that as a condition of employment an employer can insist of drug testing. A friend of mines son in Utah just graduated nine month of high electrical wire school. Immediate after graduation he was offered 6 figures tom start, plus expenses at 20 years old. No college debt. Drug tests mandatory.

Bruce Kline  

Posted: August 4th, 2019 1:20 PM

Brian in regard to employee testing. Any employee of the federal government could be (and in fact is) subject to potential testing at any time. Marijuana on the federal level is classified as a schedule 1 drug: no currently accepted medical use and high abuse potential. This puts it in the same category as heroin and LSD as far as the feds are concerned. So yes, in the federal system the use of marijuana puts one's job at risk - irrespective of local laws.

William Dwyer Jr.  

Posted: August 4th, 2019 10:30 AM

There was a teenager shot to death over a pair of gym shoes just last week, Brian. What's your point? That we'll never be totally free of crime or evil people willing to perpetrate it? Gee, thanks for the heads up.

Brian Slowiak  

Posted: August 4th, 2019 10:04 AM

No one carrying medical or recreational will ever be robbed of their marijuana. Ever Never.. No person with medical marijuana will ever give sell, or falsely report they were robbed of the marijuana. Ever. Never. No person will ever go into a medicine cabinet and steal medical marijuana. Ever. Never. Muggers will not target anyone carrying medical marijuana for their marijuana. Ever. Never. No one will sell stolen medical or rec. marijuana. Ever.Never. I cant wait for the second hand marijuana smoke to become an issue.Soon. Crime wont go down. Crime will be displaced into other areas. And masked. To be determined, will employers have the right to force employees to a drug test for marijuana before employment and during employment.

Nick Polido  

Posted: August 4th, 2019 7:41 AM

Don Harmon always seizing an opportunity in obtaining graft......

Brian Bobek  

Posted: August 3rd, 2019 5:10 PM

Regarding this recommendation, were the village to require special use permits for dispensaries I hope we end up with establishments owned by locals, like many of our fine craft brew pubs.

Brian Bobek from Oak Park  

Posted: August 3rd, 2019 4:26 PM

The 2019 projected IL sales of medical marijuana alone are between $200MM $240MM. Illinois's projected recreational market is that it may rival Colorado's. They do around $1.7 billion. And yes, background checks will be required for all employees.

Jim Coughlin  

Posted: August 2nd, 2019 8:45 PM

What are the revenue projections for sales? The board is scrambling for new sources while dealing with the crushing burden of employee pensions. Trustees have expressed concerns of having to cut/reduce services in the very near future.

Christopher Abbasi  

Posted: August 2nd, 2019 8:41 PM

This is great news for all of the existing drug dealers operating illegally.

Jolyn Crawford  

Posted: August 2nd, 2019 5:31 PM

There should be stringent background checks to weed out individuals with criminal records especially involving illegal drugs.

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