WAUKEGAN, Illinois — In yet another step toward allowing recreational cannabis businesses in unincorporated Lake County, the Lake County Public Works, Planning & Transportation committee (PWPT) met on April 28 to consider the Zoning Board of Appeals’ unanimous recommendation the previous week to pass proposed zoning text amendments that would permit adult-use cannabis businesses, including recreational marijuana dispensaries, to operate in unincorporated Lake County.
After two public hearings on the issue, the Zoning Board of Appeals voted to approve proposed zoning text amendments after two public comment hearings last week. Additional verbal and written comment from the public was heard during Wednesday’s meeting. No action was taken during the meeting, and formal approval of the measure will likely happen at a May or June Lake County Board meeting.
“We’ve had a total of 30 meaningful comments. The geographical range of comments was countywide. We had a really broad level of response across the county,” said Waggoner.
Comments from the public addressed concerns including issues such as public safety, crime, substance abuse, youth impact of cannabis, competition with businesses located within municipal borders, impact of cannabis businesses on natural resources, property value impact, a higher concentration of THC (the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis) compared to years gone by, appropriate taxation and allocation of revenue, calls to restrict locations to industrial districts and business parks away from residential areas, calls to limit the number of dispensaries that would be allowed, adding buffer zones around bike paths, comparisons of cannabis to alcohol and tobacco, and the effect of having an additional source of revenue for the country through adult-use cannabis sales.
“I know we’re not in a legal position to impose requirements on [adult-use cannabis businesses] for energy use, but if there’s any way we can provide incentives for them to use renewable energy or reduce their energy consumption, I would like to put that out there for the committee’s consideration. I think that’s part of what should be looked at,” said committee member John Wasik, who also is a Lake County Board Member representing a district which includes all of Grayslake and Hainesville, and portions of Round Lake Park, Round Lake Beach, and Wildwood.
Local governments in Illinois cannot ban or override regulations allowing adult possession or consumption of cannabis for individuals aged 21 and over, a law adopted under the Illinois Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act of 2019, which took effect on January 1, 2020 and made cannabis legal in the state of Illinois.
Jurisdictions in Illinois can ban adult-use cannabis businesses within their boundaries or, alternatively, establish regulations on businesses engaged in the production, transport, and sale of cannabis, however, they may not ban or override the Illinois Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act of 2019, which took effect January 1, 2020 and legalized cannabis in the state of Illinois.
In February of this year, the Lake County Board voted unanimously to consider allowing cannabis businesses in unincorporated Lake County.
For more information on Lake County’s proposal to permit adult-use cannabis businesses, click here.