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Local News

Plainfield poised to join Bolingbrook, Naperville in opting out of recreational marijuana business

Village would join Naperville, Bolingbrook

Plainfield Mayor Mike Collins addresses the crowd gathered at a board meeting.
Plainfield Mayor Mike Collins addresses the crowd gathered at a board meeting.

Plainfield will likely join area municipalities in opting out of allowing commercial recreational marijuana businesses into the village.

Mayor Mike Collins directed the village attorney to draw up an ordinance for opting out of allowing marijuana dispensaries and cultivation centers after a discussion during the Village Board’s Committee of the Whole meeting Monday.

That ordinance may come to the board for a formal vote as early as Oct. 7.

There was no debate on the issue, as most of the trustees seemed to be in favor of opting out. Few members of the public attended the meeting, and no residents spoke.

The discussion came after a presentation from Police Chief John Konopek on Illinois’ Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act, which will take effect Jan. 1 and allows the possession, use and purchase of recreational marijuana for individuals 21 and older.

The law also allows up to 500 dispensaries to be open in the state by 2022.

While local governments may not restrict the private possession or use of marijuana as authorized by the act, they do have the authority to opt out of allowing production and distribution of the drug in their towns. Local municipalities must opt out by Dec. 31.

Naperville and Bolingbrook are among the growing number of suburban communities that have already opted out of making tax money off pot sales. However, a Joliet medical marijuana dispensary was one of the first ones approved by the state for recreational sales.

Trustee Brian Wojowski said the prospective tax revenue the village could make from cannabis businesses was not worth “the social costs” that he felt would come with them.

Trustee Margie Bonuchi said the image of the village would suffer if the village did not opt out.

“Is this what you want to see when you drive down the street, drive in the business district in this town?” she said. “I want no part of this.”

Collins, as well as Trustees Cally Larson, Larry Newton and Kevin Calkins, also expressed skepticism about various provisions in the state’s new law. Trustee Harry Benton did not speak during the discussion.

“I don’t think the state thought this through, considering every detail that will have to come into place to make this work,” Larson said.

Collins said there were “too many things that are going to go unanswered right now.”

Konopek said the new law will affect the police department the most, not only as it seeks to implement changes in enforcement, but also because they are now required to expunge more than 1,300 minor cannabis offenses that predate the law.

Konopek also said there would be a zero-tolerance policy of any amount of marijuana in the blood of on-duty police officers.

“Policing is one of those things where you could make a decision to take someone’s life in a second and you do not want [an officer’s] mental capacity impacted ... at all,” Konopek said.

Wojowski, who also is a police officer, said he supported the use of medicinal marijuana and he was in favor of the expungement of the minor cannabis offense records.

However, he was concerned about how legalized marijuana use would affect driving and how police departments would be able to charge individuals suspected of being high without any current field test that can accurately assess such drug use.

Konopek said the only way the police departments would be able to ascertain marijuana usage in a driver was through a blood test, which could only be mandated if the officers had “reasonable suspicion.”

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