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updated: 9/25/2019 10:01 AM

Mt. Prospect explores options on recreational pot

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  • Mount Prospect leaders discussed Tuesday whether the village should allow the sale of marijuana for recreational use in town.

    Mount Prospect leaders discussed Tuesday whether the village should allow the sale of marijuana for recreational use in town.
    Associated Press file photo

 

Mount Prospect trustees held a wide-ranging discussion Tuesday on the village's options once recreational cannabis becomes legal in January.

It was the kickoff of a process that will ultimately lead to a recommendation from the planning and zoning commission and a final decision by the village board.

The village heard from its attorney, police chief and community development director about ways to address life with recreational cannabis.

Community Development Director Bill Cooney outlined the zoning options, including allowing it as a conditional use in its community shopping district or a permitted use in its limited industrial district.

Mayor Arlene Juracek and trustees sounded a note of resignation, given that, as Juracek said, "it's a done deal in the state of Illinois."

Trustee William Grossi suggested putting a distance between marijuana sales and children.

"I would rather see it be a thousand feet from a school or a church," he said. "I don't think that 100 feet is enough."

Kris Zerfass of the Link Together Coalition said youths see recreational marijuana as safer if it is legalized, citing surveys showing that one out of four is likely to try it.

Resident Dan Murphy said he opposes recreational sales within the village "simply so we're not part of the problem."

"I think it's apparent that there is no positive for making marijuana legal," he said

Resident Terri Gens said it's better to have rules governing legal marijuana.

"Right now, so many teens are already using it, and it's not regulated. And so what they are either purchasing or getting has other chemicals added to it. It can be very dangerous," she said.

The new state law approves recreational use only for those 21 and older.

"We want nothing to do with selling to underaged people. We don't market to children," said Mark De Souza, CEO of Revolution Enterprises, which operates several medical marijuana dispensaries, including one in Mount Prospect, and will apply for a recreational sales license.

Whatever the village decides -- and one of the options is to outlaw the sale of recreational marijuana within the village -- Police Chief John Koziol made it clear that law enforcement will be faced with challenges.

Koziol told trustees there is no validated roadside test for THC, the active chemical in cannabis.

The most reliable test, he said, is a blood test. However, at present, "a lot of the hospitals don't want to test blood for us," citing such concerns as liability, the chief said.

One alternative, he said, is to call in a phlebotomist from a private firm, which could cost $400.

In addition, he said, the department would incur additional costs for training officers as well as buying new equipment.

He said it would cost $120,000 for equipment to analyze edibles and $300,000 for equipment to test THC in blood.

Village attorney Lance Malina said 8% of state taxes collected from recreational cannabis sales will be distributed to local governments for crime prevention programs, law enforcement training and drug interdiction efforts.

Communities that permit recreational marijuana sales also can impose up to a 3% local tax.