Glen Ellyn makes ban on retail marijuana sales permanent

Glen Ellyn has made permanent a temporary ban on selling recreational marijuana within village boundaries.

The village board first imposed a moratorium on state-licensed weed businesses about two months before recreational marijuana use became legal in Illinois at the start of 2020.

Trustees then extended the moratorium twice, declining to take a firm stance on the matter for nearly two years. A nonbinding referendum question on the ballot in November 2020 didn’t settle the issue, either.

A narrow majority of voters -- about 51.25% -- supported allowing marijuana sales, while 48.75% of voters were against it.

But the board’s 4-2 vote Monday night to prohibit retail pot sales in Glen Ellyn represents a final decision and an outright ban, Village President Mark Senak said.

“Future boards may do what they want, but from my perspective, extending the moratorium simply prolonged an issue that needs to be decided,” Senak said.

Trustees Gary Fasules and Kelli Christiansen, who has previously signaled an openness to allow a dispensary to set up shop, voted against opting out of sales.

“I think that the buffers needed to be talked about,” said Fasules, referring to proposed zoning regulations for marijuana businesses. “So in that case, I can’t put into our ordinance something that I don’t think has been well thought, which is not at the benefit to the village.”

In Lombard, Glen Ellyn’s neighbor to the east, a Zen Leaf store opened on Butterfield Road last March as the village’s first recreational marijuana dispensary.

Among other surrounding towns, Naperville and Oakbrook Terrace have allowed sales. Lisle and Wheaton have opted out.

Municipalities can place local sales taxes of up to 3% on recreational sales.

Statewide, marijuana dispensaries recorded $121.9 million in sales last month. July’s sales reached a record-high $127.8 million, the most since May.

The majority of buyers in August were from Illinois, state records showed. Illinois residents spent $81.3 million on recreational marijuana, while out-of-state buyers spent $40.6 million.

More than 2.7 million recreational pot products were sold, according to the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation.