Tonight, the Village of Arlington Heights board will be considering ordinance drafts that could completely ban or limit marijuana sales within village limits. If the “complete ban” (Draft Ordinance A) does not move forward, “baby steps” to Draft Ordinance B and Draft Ordinance C will follow in the decision-making process. The Village of Arlington Heights has schedule a Committee of the Whole meeting on Monday, October 28, 2019 at 7:00 PM in the board room at Village Hall, 33 South Arlington Heights Road to discuss the draft ordinances. Open session for residents’ input begins at 7:30 p.m.
Draft Ordinance A would prohibit all types of adult-use cannabis business establishments and cannabis retail businesses from opening in Arlington Heights.
Draft Ordinance B is available for consideration if Draft Ordinance A does not move forward, and sets forth proposed Municipal Code amendments — most significantly creating an article in the Code related to cannabis businesses. Draft Ordinance B only permits cannabis dispensaries and prohibits all other types of cannabis businesses (e.g., Cannabis Lounges). Draft Ordinance B limits the number of dispensaries to three and sets forth limitations as to where dispensaries could be located in the Village of Arlington Heights. Draft Ordinance B prohibits on-premises consumption of cannabis.
Draft Ordinance C will be considered if Draft Ordinance B moves forward. Draft Ordinance C proposes a 3% tax on the retail sale of adult use cannabis. In Illinois, 3% tax is the maximum permitted by the State Law. To ensure that the Village of Arlington Heights makes its own determination as to regulations related to cannabis businesses, the Board must adopt an ordinance prior to January 1, 2020.
Although the licensed growth, sale, possession and use of marijuana will be legal in Illinois effective January 1, 2020, the legislation signed into law by Governor JB Pritzker allows villages, cities and counties to opt out of marijuana retail sales.
Dispensary Menus for Cannabis
There may also be a binder or a menu that explains the various strains and blends—those may include Dairy Queen, Cheesequake, Moonshine Haze, Blue Dream, Ghost Train Haze, and that old stoner’s standby, Sour Diesel. Of course, because dispensaries are in an arms race over the best varieties, those will probably simply be funny names to you. That’s why every dispensary worth its salt employs staff that can tell you exactly what each strain will do to you. Again, as the law matures into an industry, dispensaries want to be taken seriously, and they will talk you through the wares.
The decision process for retail marijuana revolves around the nay side saying “no” to legalized retail purchases of a federally classified Schedule 1 Drug — currently considered a dangerous intoxicant, which the DEA also regards has having “a high potential for abuse.” The nay side argues that harmful effects of cannabis and associated health and safety costs to members of society negate the benefit of tax revenue. Harmful effects include risk of developing schizophrenia and other psychoses, and increased risk for developing social anxiety disorder. Naysayers for retail marijuana also claim an increase in fatal crashes involving motorists that tested positive for marijuana in Colorado since marijuana was legalized in Colorado.
The yea side argues that cannabis should be removed from Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act and that local tax revenue will be lost to neighboring communities that permit retail marijuana stores. Proponents also claim chronic pain relief benefits some consumers of cannabis, and that sensible consumers shouldn’t be punished because of potential for abuse of legal distribution. Proponents also argue that marijuana users already are able to obtain marijuana illegally, but often acquire it unsafely from dubious sources with unknown product contamination.
Thirty-three states and the District of Columbia have legalized the medical use of cannabis, but at the federal level, the use of cannabis remains prohibited for any purpose.
Discussion at the meeting may involve purchasing safeguards (extra security measures, including high-quality video monitoring), since dispensaries currently predominantly operate as cash businesses, which might increase the risk of armed robberies. Bank institutions and credit card companies are wary of violating federal law, since marijuana sales remain illegal at the federal level. Most financial institutions are unwilling to risk prosecution for facilitating marijuana sales even though the risk of prosecution is low. However, financial institutions might run afoul of the federal government if purchases facilitated by the financial institution become wrapped up in any of the Department of Justice’s eight enforcement priorities from the Cole Memorandum listed after the five paragraphs below.
Consequently, nearly all marijuana businesses in Colorado, for example, require cash purchases and keep an ATM on premises.
The Cole Memorandum was a United States Department of Justice memorandum issued August 29, 2013, by United States Deputy Attorney General James M. Cole during the presidency of Barack Obama. The memorandum was sent to all United States Attorneys.
The memorandum was a reminder that Congress has determined that marijuana is a dangerous drug and that the illegal distribution and sale of marijuana is a serious crime that provides a significant source of revenue to large-scale criminal enterprises, gangs, and cartels.
The memorandum clarified the governing of federal prosecution of offenses related to marijuana, and stated that given the limited resources of federal law agencies, the Justice Department would not enforce federal marijuana prohibition in states that “legalized marijuana in some form.
The memorandum declared eight enforcement priorities of the federal government in …
• Preventing the distribution of marijuana to minors;
• Preventing revenue from the sale of marijuana from going to criminal enterprises, gangs, and cartels;
• Preventing the diversion of marijuana from states where it is legal under state law in some form to other states;
• Preventing state-authorized marijuana activity from being used as a cover or pretext for the trafficking of other illegal drugs or other illegal activity;
• Preventing violence and the use of firearms in the cultivation and distribution of marijuana;
• Preventing drugged driving and the exacerbation of other adverse public health consequences associated with marijuana use;
• Preventing the growing of marijuana on public lands and the attendant public safety and environmental dangers posed by marijuana production on public lands; and
• Preventing marijuana possession or use on federal property.
The memorandum provided expectations that while local legalization will disrupt traditional state and local law agency alliances with the federal government, there remains an expectation that local enterprises will not undermine federal priorities, such as preventing violence in marijuana cultivation and distribution, preventing cannabis-impaired driving, and preventing marijuana revenues from going to gangs and cartels, etc.
The memorandum declared that information in the memorandum does not alter in any way the Department of Justice’s authority to enforce federal law, including federal laws relating to marijuana, regardless of state law.
Locally and nationally, there have been many discussions on the implications of public safety and health of citizens where marijuana has become legal. The Village of Arlington Heights has outlined Public Safety Implications as follows …
The Police and Fire Departments have discussed the impact of adult use cannabis establishments from the law enforcement, health, and EMS perspectives over the past several months. At this time it is believed that there would be no to little additional Village Staff time or expense based on the location of adult use cannabis stores within the community beyond what would be normal for a retail use with similar volume of sales. However, we cannot answer this question with certainty as this is a new concept in Illinois and there may be unanticipated issues. This assessment of “no to little impact” is based on the following factors:
The Village would not be responsible for regulating such stores as we do for liquor stores.
The Village’s experiences with medical cannabis indicate that it does not drive any Village calls for service beyond a typical business.
The regulation of the product to prevent theft/shoplifting etc. is more stringent than that of a typical retail establishment. This seems to suggest that calls for service for shoplifting/theft would be lower than a less regulated business.
The management of parking/traffic related to the business will be biggest impact as we do not have a good way to analyze the volume of traffic beyond treating this as a typical retail establishment. If for some reason, traffic and parking were more burdensome than a typical retail establishment then parking/zoning regulations would have to be adjusted accordingly.
This analysis presumes that consumption on the premises will not be permitted. Consumption on the premises could impact Village calls for service. Again, Staff is not stating that the legalization of adult use cannabis will have no impact on Village services. Staff is merely saying that given the legalization of adult use cannabis in Illinois effective January 1, 2020, the presence of retail locations within the Village is not anticipated to have an impact.
Beyond the mention of “unanticipated issues” the Public Safety Implications do not consider the possibility of increased crashes from cannabis-impaired driving. The Public Safety Implications also do not consider the possibility of the increased likelihood of distribution of cannabis from legal purchases to illegal “contributing to the delinquency of minors” style distribution to minors. Illegal distribution of small packages of cannabis to minors would be much easier to conceal compared to illegal distribution of alcohol beverages to minors via alcohol containers.
The Public Safety Implications outline also did not address whether the retail marijuana dispensaries would compare unfavorably to medical marijuana dispensaries, which serve a different population set, and whether increased retail consumption could result in an increase load and volume of EMS calls — indirectly but as a consequence of recreational cannabis use.
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According to the National Police Foundation, the legalization of marijuana produced many unintended consequences, which led to a number of challenges and issues. Some of which have been addressed through ordinances, policies, and procedures, while other issues are more complicated and have not found total resolution. The National Police Foundation partnered with the Colorado Association of Chiefs of Police to produce a guidebook illustrating the challenges in policing legalized marijuana and the law enforcement practices that have been most successful in Colorado. The findings that make up the guidebook show:
Data to determine the impact of legalized marijuana on crime and safety is limited and is a significant problem.
Banking systems are unavailable to the marijuana industry because of federal laws, creating a dangerous level of cash that can lead to robberies.
Difficulties in establishing what is a legal marijuana operation have created problems in conducting investigations, determining probable cause and search and seizure procedures.
Marijuana illegal trading through the black and gray markets has not decreased, law enforcement agencies have found. Diversion across state boundaries has created issues for bordering states who do not have legalized marijuana laws.
Public health and safety impacts concerns have occurred through the increased THC potency from marijuana hash oil extractions, which are used in making laced edibles and beverages. People have overdosed on the higher levels of THC leading to potential psychotic breaks and suicide attempts.
Youth use and addiction rates have increased due to ease of accessibility.
Detecting driving under the influence of marijuana is a significant challenge for law enforcement.
The National Police Foundation, headquartered in Washington, DC, is a national, independent non-profit organization dedicated to advancing policing through innovation and science. The Police Foundation was founded on July 22, 1970 by the Ford Foundation, but operates today with funding support from public (federal, state and local governments) and private sources as well as donations.
The National Police Foundation conducts scientific experiments related to key challenges in policing; and translates scientific research into practice, through training and technical assistance to law enforcement agencies in the United States, Canada and Mexico.