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Board Hears Thoughts on Recreational Sale of Cannabis in Arlington Heights; Votes to Opt Out at Arlington Heights Village Board Meeting Nov. 4, 2019

Wed November 06 2019 4:55 pm  https://www.arlingtoncardinal.com/?p=579593
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Video archive of the Arlington Heights Village Board Meeting November 4, 2019 that involved the controversial decision to opt out of retail sales of marijuana in Arlington Heights (begins 53:19/3:21:31).

Following months of study by Village Board members and hours of discussions in two open forum sessions, the Village Board of Arlington Heights on Monday November 4, 2019 voted in favor of a village ordinance to prohibit the sale of recreational marijuana in the Village of Arlington Heights.

Several open forum “Blue Card” speakers accused the Village Board of being either Luddite, anti-progressive, fiscally irresponsible, or anti-business regarding the decision in late October 2019 to prevent recreational marijuana sales in Arlington Heights.

In the mayor’s comment, Thomas Hayes countered comments that claimed that the Arlington Heights decision opposing recreational marijuana dispensaries was anti-business friendly. Hayes defended the business-friendly nature of Arlington Heights, pointing out that a month ago the Village of Arlington received one of two awards from the US Conference of Mayors for being small business friendly. Hayes said sales of products such as pet food, and sales of services such as haircuts are quite different than sales of marijuana.

I will continued to advocate in my remaining time on this village board, whatever that is, to ensure that I do all I can to see that my vision of this community is fulfilled — and that’s to enhance the quality of life, and not diminish it in any way, shape or form.

— Mayor Thomas Hayes

Supporters of the decision to allow recreational marijuana sales in Arlington Heights also expressed concern that non-residents were permitted to speak at a Village Board meeting. Mayor Hayes clarified that by State Law, the village is not allowed to ask people their home address, and as a public forum, the village entertains any and all comments whether they originate from the village or outside the village. Last week thirty of the 36 blue cards were from people who reside in Arlington Heights, according to Mayor Hayes. This week about twenty blue cards were submitted for open forum citizen input prior to the board’s final decision.




Illinois State Senator Anne Gillespie also participated as a “Blue Card” speaker, and spoke in favor of allowing retail sales of marijuana in Arlington Heights. Gillespie said that marijuana “establishments would be run by business people that we have every reason to believe will operate as responsibly as every other business in our community does — including those selling alcohol, selling tobacco, running bars, and running gambling establishments, such as Arlington Track … Race Park, which this board just confirmed tonight we’re going to fight to keep open.” Gillespie urged the board “to act with the same respect that you do for other legal substances, such as alcohol and tobacco, legal activities, such as gambling, trust the business community to run these responsibly, and vote against an ordinance prohibiting cannabis dispensaries because this will show Arlington Heights continues to be a business-friendly and forward-thinking community.

Sen. Ann Gillespie’s read of what she claims the text of the referendum specifically said …

Shall the State of Illinois legalize the cultivation, manufacture, distribution, testing and sale of marijuana and marijuana products for recreational used by adults 21 and older subject to state regulation, taxation and local ordinance?

— State Senator Anne Gillespie

Cook County, Illinois, Marijuana Legalization Advisory Question (March 2018)

“Shall the State of Illinois legalize the cultivation, manufacture, distribution, testing, and sale of marijuana and marijuana products for recreational use by adults 21 and older subject to state regulation, taxation and local ordinance?”

— Ballotpedia

Marijuana Legalization Referendum Act

Section 5. Referendum. The State Board of Elections shall
cause a statewide advisory public question to be submitted to
the voters at the general election to be held on November 6,
9, 2018. The question shall appear in the following form:
“Do you support the legalization of possession and use of
marijuana by persons who are at least 21 years of age,
subject to regulation and taxation that is similar to the
regulation and taxation of tobacco and alcohol?”

The votes on the question shall be recorded as “Yes” or “No”.

— SB2275 100th General Assembly Illinois

Note: The Cook County, Illinois, Marijuana Legalization Advisory Question appeared on the ballot for Cook County, Illinois voters on March 20, 2018.

The Illinois Marijuana Legalization Advisory Question did not qualify to appear on the Illinois 2018 ballot measures in Illinois as a legislatively referred constitutional amendment on November 6, 2018 (Ballotpedia).

Craig Horwitz, who lives in Buffalo Grove near the border of Arlington Heights, addressed the conjecture of pro-recreational marijuana sales supporters that exclaim that lack of recreational marijuana sales tax revenue means that the Village of Arlington Heights will be missing out on funds for crime prevention, training and interdiction. Horwitz reminded board members that the “Illinois law to take effect January of 2020 shall include a local government distribution fund for cannabis. This 8% fund will be distributed to municipalities — all municipalities, whether your selling it or not, to provide for crime prevention, training and interdiction.” Horwitz contends that $500,000 in tax revenue is a pie in the sky figure. At the 4% maximum tax allowed, the three dispensaries combined in Arlington Heights would need a total income of $12.5 million or about $4 million for each of the three dispensaries in order to bring $500,000 tax revenue to Arlington Heights. Looking at revenue figures in Denver, Colorado involving their local marijuana dispensaries, the marijuana establishments in Denver are averaging about $820,000 per dispensary, which far less than the $4 million income projected for each hypothetical marijuana dispensary in Arlington Heights. With Denver in mind, Horwitz proposed allowing an optimistic projection of $3 million total cannabis dispensary income ($1 million for each dispensary) for Arlington Heights. At 4% tax Arlington Heights might see $120,000 in taxes. Furthermore, Horwitz said a netting out of other taxes could reduce that $120,000 down to $88,000. Horwitz said he thinks $88,000 out of a village budget of $146 million just isn’t worth it.

Each Village Board member discussed their rationale for their decision. Trustee John Scaletta mentioned seeing people in the board meeting Monday night who had made comments on social media about the issue the past week that just aren’t true. As a result, Scaletta said he received some “nasty emails” with the way they were written and the way they characterized people who spoke at the meeting Monday night October 28, 2019.

Trustee John Scaletta led with a motion to concur with the Board of Health’s recommendation and adopt Ordinance A and prohibit the sale of recreational marijuana in the Village of Arlington Heights; Trustee Greg Padovani seconded the motion.

Trustee Canty interrupted the Vote Roll Call …

“I’m going to vote ‘not for this motion’ but I’m also going to encourage our voters to remember these votes when you go to the ballot box in the future.”

— Mary Beth Canty

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 — ABSENT
Trustee John Scaletta — YES
Trustee Thomas F. Schwingbeck Jr — YES
Trustee Jim Tinaglia — NO

The ordinance was passed with the same votes as above.

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