Bolingbrook board was blunt – no cannabis businesses in village

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The village of Bolingbrook Board of Trustees voted Tuesday night to prohibit cannabis business establishments within its boundaries.

The trustees voted, 5-1, in favor of the prohibition. Bolingbrook Mayor Roger Claar said he was in favor of prohibiting cannabis businesses in the village and decried how the state government passed the legislation to legalize it.

“I philosophically have a real problem with governments which have turned to drugs and gambling to balance their budgets,” he said. “That’s what the state’s come to.”

The village’s ordinance cited the state’s Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act, which allows municipalities to prohibit adult-use cannabis business establishments.

Ken Teppel, the village’s public safety director, spoke about the Bolingbrook Police Department’s opposition to allowing cannabis businesses in town.

He also talked about the challenges posed to police departments in other states that have already legalized recreational cannabis use, such as Colorado.

For example, Teppel said, cannabis businesses have been targets for theft because they deal solely in cash to be in compliance with federal banking laws. He said that, for police, it’s more difficult to investigate such crimes without a paper trail.

He also talked about other problems such as black markets developing around legal dispensaries, the high potency of the drug nowadays, potential dangers with flammable materials used to grow the plant, and trying to develop a test for impaired drivers who have used the drug.

During public comments, the opinions among the handful of residents who spoke were mixed.

Trustee Bob Jaskiewicz was the only “no” vote. He said it was a mistake to not have a public hearing before holding a vote on the prohibition.

“I want us to consider other points as to why a dispensary would be a good thing,” Jaskiewicz said.

Claar told Jaskiewicz to take up the issue with state legislators because, unlike other states, which held a referendum, Illinois "chose to ignore the public" and didn't ask voters. Claar said lawmakers were already discussing a possible trailer bill to clarify and fix issues with the initial law that passed.

The mayor also made sure to emphasize that the ordinance was only prohibiting commercial businesses selling cannabis and not recreational use of the drug. Trustee Mary Alexander Basta made the point that the ordinance could be revised in the future.

Recreational cannabis use and possession will be legal in Illinois starting Jan. 1, 2020.

Alex Ortiz

Alex Ortiz is a reporter for The Herald-News in Joliet. Originally from Romeoville, Ill., he joined The Herald-News in 2017 and mostly covers Will County government, politics, education and more. He earned his bachelor's degree at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a master's degree from Northwestern University.