The Hinsdalean - Community journalism the way it was meant to be

Keep it one toke over the (boundary) line


Last updated 10/2/2019 at 12:26pm | View PDF

Hinsdale Tuesday joined a list of Chicago-area suburbs that have decided to prevent recreational marijuana dispensaries from operating within village boundaries.

LaGrange Park, Naperville, Libertyville and Bloomingdale already have prohibited these businesses, which will become legal in the state as of Jan. 1, 2020. We imagine more will do the same.

We’re pleased to see Hinsdale trustees are not lured by the promise of tax dollars that others have found so intoxicating. Revenue estimates range wildly, from $440 million to almost $700 million a year. Municipalities would receive just a fraction of that amount, of course, but local taxes of up to 3.5 percent could add up.

We’re also pleasantly surprised that state legislators were willing to allow local governments to opt of out recreational weed sales.

That’s not the only surprise in the Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act, which Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed into law in June. (Illinois, by the way, is the only state in which the legislature — not a ballot initiative approved by voters — legalized recreational marijuana use.)

The law offers a host of incentives for people who have been in trouble with the law for using pot to open dispensaries, and for such shops to be located in areas plagued with poverty and unemployment that have high rates of arrest, conviction and incarceration related to the sale, possession, use, cultivation, manufacture, or transport of cannabis.

Is Hinsdale such an area? Absolutely not.

Is someone who qualifies for these incentives likely to choose Hinsdale as a place to set up shop? Probably not.

But the details of the law illustrate that legalizing the sale of weed is designed to do more than fill state coffers with tax dollars. It’s designed to be a make-good to those who’ve been arrested for or convicted of certain marijuana-related offenses.

Perhaps, as is often the case, legislators’ intentions are good. If cannabis laws have been “disproportionately” enforced, then making amends might be in order. Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot spoke to that point in an op-ed piece in the Sept. 17 issue of the Chicago Sun-Times.

“While I believe cannabis legalization is long overdue, I want to do it in a way that uplifts the economic life of our neighborhoods and residents, particularly those in our black and brown communities who have borne the brunt of the war on drugs,” she wrote.

Putting individuals in a position to run a retail establishment selling the product that got them into legal trouble in the first place seems risky. Proponents say anti-marijuana laws were ill-conceived in the first place and that those punished deserve some remedy. We believe that’s a slippery slope.

And not everyone agrees that opening dispensaries in high-crime, low-income areas is the right way to bring about economic revitalization.

“Minorities have said to me we don’t want this stuff in our neighborhood,” Democratic state Rep. Marty Moylan of Des Plaines was quoted as saying in a May 6 article in the Chicago Tribune. “There’s other ways to generate revenue, not on the backs of our children and young adults.”

We don’t want it in our neighborhood, either.

As many as 295 dispensaries could be in operation in Illinois by 2022, according to Marijuana Business Daily.

We’re glad none of them will be in Hinsdale.


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