YES Means NO Marijuana Sales in Arlington Heights; But It’s Not Yet Time For Opt-Out Proponents To Celebrate
The majority of people who addressed the Village Board in the “blue card” session Monday night October 28, 2019 spoke out against an ordinance to allow and regulate sales of marijuana in Arlington Heights. Twenty-five of 36 people asked the Village Board to opt out of any decision to allow the sales of marijuana. The open forum began at 7:30 p.m. after Village of Arlington Heights board members discussed details and updates about how and where dispensaries would operate if they were approved. Mayor Thomas Hayes emphasized that tonight’s decision would not affect the medical marijuana dispensary on South Arlington Heights Road near Golf Road.
Ultimately the Village Board on Monday night October 28, 2019 voted to move forward with the option to prevent dispensaries from locating in Arlington Heights and selling recreational marijuana in Arlington Heights; however the vote is advisory and not binding. Some residents are still a little leery in fear of what could happen to the decision if two trustees would waver back. They recommend that Opt-Out proponents remain “watchful of” and “expressive to” Village of Arlington Heights trustees who could potentially be influenced by recreational marijuana sales lobbyists in the next few weeks.
Prior to the opening the citizen forum (“blue card” session) village officials explained details about regulating potential dispensaries. With the state law, cannabis users can’t use the drug in public, and can’t drive under the influence of cannabis. The licensing of cannabis dispensaries is regulated at the state level — local governments can’t decide what businesses are allowed to operate. Dispensaries can’t sell via drive-thru windows, and can’t sell live plants.
State regulation on advertising is strict. The actual marijuana leaf depiction can’t be used on advertising, and an ad can’t be perceived as enticing to minors.
Allowable Arlington Heights regulations proposed that only three dispensaries would be allowed in Arlington Heights — one north of Hintz Road, one between Hintz Road and Central Road (excluding Arlington Heights), and one south of Central Road. The local license would be classified as permitted use (similar to liquor license) as opposed to special use. Arlington Heights restrictions proposed would also not permit a dispensary within 1,000 feet of any school.
Earlier discoveries by village officials determined that the Arlington Economic Alliance supported the notion of recreational marijuana sales in Arlington Heights, while the Village Board of Health supported prohibition of recreational marijuana sales in Arlington Heights.
Following details with staff presentation and questions directed at staff by the Board, a “blue card” session lasted about 90 minutes while 36 people were allowed up to 3 minutes to express their position regarding the village opting in or opting out of retail sales of marijuana in Arlington Heights.
SELECT COMMENTERS FROM “BLUE CARD” OPEN SESSION
Calvin Lindstrom, Pastor of Christian Liberty Church and Schools referred the audience to a documentary “Seattle Is Dying” (video at bottom or article) that shows the decline of conditions in Seattle, including homelessness and drug use. Lindstrom pointed out that laws reflect morality and send a message to children. At least nine dispensaries exist in Seattle and over 500 cannabis-related retailers exist in the state of Washington.
Denver Marijuana Industry-Related Crimes
Industry Related Crime entails reported criminal offenses where marijuana businesses were either the victim or the perpetrator of a crime. Approximately 77% of these crimes were burglaries or larcenies that occurred at licensed marijuana businesses.
Craig Horwitz of Buffalo Grove, who said he provided a Denver report (The Denver Collaborative Approach/Denver Marijuana Annual Report 2019 [PDF]) to Mayor Hayes, presented an apparently well-researched statement, and argued that predicted sales tax revenues are exaggerated. Horwitz said that after researching actual income experienced by dispensaries in Denver — and projecting the real results in Denver to potential sales here in Arlington Heights, Illinois — the statistics forecast that Arlington Heights would realize far less than $500,000 in revenue with three dispensaries. Horwitz also explained that marijuana-related (“industry-related”) crime rates have increased 43 percent from 2017 to 2018 in Colorado. He said both industry-related and DUI-related crime rates have increased where Colorado has experienced legalized marijuana. The Denver report shows that overall DUI rates have declined in Denver since 2014, but DUI Drug Marijuana arrests increased 39 percent, comparing the year 2018 to 2014.
Horwitz also said he was disappointed that his Buffalo Grove hometown approved retail sales of recreational marijuana with an allowance of two dispensaries.
Buffalo Grove High School Athletic Director and Arlington Heights resident Kip North asked the Board to opt out of allowing recreational marijuana sales in Arlington Heights. North is concerned about the “normalization” of cannabis use with allowance of sales of recreational marijuana in the community. North also asked those in attendance to consider why cannabis businesses would not be allowed in downtown Arlington Heights, suggesting it was ironic that the Village of Arlington Heights wasn’t willing to allow a dispensary to set up shop in the Central Business District. North said if the motivation to allow dispensaries is financial, the former Flaherty Jewelry store at Campbell Street and Dunton Avenue would appeal as a prime location for a cannabis dispensary.
VILLAGE BOARD DISCUSSES AND CONCLUDES DECISION ON RECREATIONAL CANNABIS SALES IN ARLINGTON HEIGHTS
Following the open “Blue Card” session, the board discussed recreational sales of marijuana amongst themselves and village staff in a pre-vote session.
Mayor Thomas Hayes opened the pre-vote discussion of the Board by concluding that the retail sales of recreational marijuana would not enhance the quality of life of the Village of Arlington Heights. Hayes compared his conclusion to other difficult decision processes involving spurned proposals that could have brought revenue to Arlington Heights, including video gaming and red light photo enforcement. Hayes declared that just because the State of Illinois made a mistake regarding the legalization of marijuana, that doesn’t mean that he as to support it. Hayes voted YES to adopting Draft Ordinance A.
Trustee Mary Beth Canty followed the mayor’s leading statement, but did not support or counter the mayor’s conclusion. Canty took a different path than other trustees, saying the money was not the issue for her. Instead, Canty proceeded to emphasize her personal beliefs, ignoring the sentiments of the majority of citizens in the “blue card” session. Canty claimed being a good parent and being responsible when making decisions was the important factor regarding the outcome of marijuana use in society. She said she already drinks alcohol in front of her children, and teaches them that when they are adults they can make responsible decisions about drinking alcohol. She added it is not up to her to influence how other parents raise their children. She said that she does not see the local marijuana decision as a moral issue — opposing the statement by Calvin Lindstrom in the “blue card” session that law reflects morality. Canty said the ordinance choice is a simple decision to favor Ordinance B and C. Trustee Canty voted NO to adopting Draft Ordinance A.
Trustee John Scaletta said all current decisions on sales of cannabis would be based on estimates, and added that cannabis sales are not the best way to increase revenue. He said he understands that residents made clear that our brand and reputation shouldn’t be traded for revenue. Scaletta added that once we allow cannabis sales, we can’t put the genie back in the bottle. Scaletta voted for Ordinance A and stated that his decision doesn’t prevent people from getting legal marijuana elsewhere. Scaletta voted YES to adopting Draft Ordinance A.
Trustee Greg Padovani said that while he spoke to residents since July 2019, he recognized that about one-third were for Ordinance A, one-third were against Ordinance A, and one third were undecided. Emphasizing his desire to represent residents of Arlington Heights, Padovani said the people that were undecided about cannabis sales, stated they were undecided because of the village revenue factor and concern about taxes. Padovani said when he learned that the revenue is insignificant, he realized this negated the sentiment of the middle-third that were undecided about allowing marijuana sales in Arlington Heights. Padovani also said that he believed dispensaries would not be a benefit to the community or the families in the community, concurring with Mayor Hayes. Padovani voted YES to adopting Draft Ordinance A.
Trustee Robin LaBedz said the vast majority of people that she spoke with about the cannabis sales issue were residents of Arlington Heights who stated they didn’t care about the revenue from cannabis sales, and didn’t want to see cannabis sales in Arlington Heights. LaBedz said if residents are concerned about sales tax revenue, they should shop local. LaBedz voted YES to adopting Draft Ordinance A.
Trustee Thomas F. Schwingbeck stated he personally discussed the issue with residents and a variety of experts in cannabis distribution (e.g., VerlaLife), and that he attended a seminar on legislature and law enforcement related to marijuana. Schwingbeck thanked the “blue card” session commenters. Schwingbeck believes that the marijuana sales decision involves an “image thing” for the Village of Arlington Heights. Schwingbeck voted YES to adopting Draft Ordinance A.
Trustee Jim Tinaglia said he is going along with the Board, but thinks adopting Draft Ordinance A is a mistake. He said that the loss of revenue from marijuana sales is similar to losing a small car dealership. He joked that he smoked marijuana years ago in college, and that he inhaled. Tinaglia stated he struggled with the fairness of permitting alcohol sales — while not permitting marijuana sales — when it is known that alcohol kills people. Tinaglia also acknowledged the appreciation of citizens who contributed their thoughts on both sides of the issue. Tinaglia forewarned that people should remember this meeting if taxes increase in the future. Tinaglia voted NO to adopting Draft Ordinance A.
Trustee Richard Baldino first thanked the involvement of citizens in discussing the marijuana issue. Baldino also expressed his concern over losing even a small portion of tax revenue from marijuana sales. Baldino voted NO to adopting Draft Ordinance A.
Bert Rosenberg said he muddled over the decision and changed his mind from supporting marijuana sales to opposing marijuana sales in Arlington Heights. As the CPA and “financial guy” on the board, he said he knows well that the Village of Arlington Heights could use the revenue, but expects there would be a lot of hidden costs. Rosenberg expressed concern over new tasks assigned to the police department related to the enforcement of marijuana-related issues, even if marijuana is not sold in Illinois. Rosenberg also acknowledged the appreciation of citizens who contributed their thoughts. Rosenberg voted YES to adopting Draft Ordinance A.
Scaletta led with a motion to concur with the Board of Health of the Village of Arlington Heights in the passage of Option A; Padovani seconded the motion.
Vote Call: Adopt Ordinance A* (prohibiting all recreational marijuana sales in Arlington Heights — YES means no marijuana sales in Arlington Heights)
Mayor Thomas W. Hayes — YES
Trustee Richard Baldino — NO
Trustee Mary Beth Canty — NO
Trustee Robin LaBedz — YES
Trustee Greg Padovani — YES
Trustee Bert Rosenberg — YES
Trustee John Scaletta — YES
Trustee Thomas F. Schwingbeck Jr — YES
Trustee Jim Tinaglia — NO
*An advisory vote that is likely to coincide with the final binding vote at the Village Board meeting on Nov. 4, 2019 (but not guaranteed).
NEARBY COMMUNITY STATUS ON RECREATIONAL MARIJUANA SALES BELOW ADS
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Communities Already Allowing Marijuana Sales at the Time of Monday’s Meeting
Communities Already Prohibiting Marijuana Sales at the Time of Monday’s Meeting
KOMO’s Eric Johnson explores the impact the drug and homelessness problem is having on our city and possible solutions in “Seattle is Dying.” Age-restricted video (based on YouTube Community Guidelines)