The Will County Board could decide whether it will allow recreational marijuana sales in unincorporated areas at its meeting next week.
When the Illinois Legislature passed a bill earlier this year to legalize recreational marijuana, it gave municipalities the ability to opt out of allowing sales within their borders.
The topic came up for discussion Thursday at the Will County Board Executive Committee meeting.
Jim Moustis, R-Frankfort, said that although he’s not in favor of allowing recreational marijuana sales in unincorporated areas, he thought the full board should vote on whether to opt out at its November meeting.
“However that vote turns out is how it turns out, but I do think that it should be a board decision,” Moustis said.
He also said he’d like the county to be “in sync” with towns such as Crest Hill, Frankfort, Lockport, Mokena, New Lenox, Plainfield and Wilmington, which have already opted out.
Ray Tuminello, R-New Lenox, agreed with Moustis on taking a vote to opt out this month to “provide some direction” to county government staff as they make recommendations for zoning regulations.
Meta Mueller, D-Aurora, and Jackie Traynere, D-Bolingbrook, said they were in favor of allowing recreational marijuana sales. Mueller said that the county should regulate sales to ensure the safety of children.
Speaker Denise Winfrey, D-Joliet, said the board would also take votes on zoning regulations and a tax on sales in December. The Will County Planning and Zoning Commission will hold a public hearing on regulations for marijuana-related businesses Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. at the Will County Office Building.
Four members of the public shared their thoughts with board members, two for and two against allowing recreational marijuana sales.
Martha Jane Corradetti, a New Lenox resident, said that allowing for recreational marijuana sales “sends the wrong message” to children who could be vulnerable to its negative effects.
Joliet resident Nicki Serbin said that it was “ludicrous” to argue that marijuana was as dangerous to society as alcohol or other substances. She also said that the stigma surrounding marijuana came from racist policies passed during the War on Drugs.
The Executive Committee voted, 5-4, to advance a vote on opting out to the County Board at its next meeting, 9:30 a.m. Thursday at the county building.