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Local

St. Charles City Council to vote on whether to allow sale of recreational marijuana

Issue will be discussed at Monday's City Council meeting

Marijuana buds
Marijuana buds

ST. CHARLES – The St. Charles City Council will vote Monday night on whether to allow the sale of recreational marijuana.

During the St. Charles City Council's Planning and Development Committee meeting Oct. 14, aldermen voted 6-3 to allow recreational dispensaries as a special use. The committee meets as a committee of the whole.

The recommendation now goes to the full City Council. Voting "no" were 1st Ward Alderman Ronald Silkaitis, 2nd Ward Alderman Arthur Lemke and 5th Ward Alderman Maureen Lewis.

Second Ward Alderman Rita Anne Payleitner, who chairs the Planning and Development Committee, didn't vote. But she has previously raised concerns that the city is rushing the process and needs to slow down.

"We need to have time to let the dust settle on this," she said during the meeting.

A motion by Lewis to prohibit the recreational sale of marijuana failed.

"There's a lot of work to be done on our end, on the state's end," she said in making the motion. "I think the best course for right now is to just opt out."

In voting for the recreational sale of marijuana, 4th Ward Alderman Lora Vitek said she believes the proposed rules are thoughtful, considerate of businesses and residents in the city and fiscally responsible. She took issue with critics who say allowing marijuana would hurt the city's image.

"Do I believe two cannabis establishments will have tremendous negative effect on our community?" Vitek asked. "Not for a second."

Beginning Jan. 1, the law will allow Illinois residents 21 and older to possess up to 30 grams of marijuana per Illinois resident. Residents also will be able to possess 5 grams of cannabis concentrate and up to 500 milligrams of THC – the main psychoactive compound in marijuana that gives the high sensation – contained in a cannabis-infused product. Nonresidents can possess half those amounts.

Registered medical marijuana patients will be allowed to grow up to five cannabis plants in their home and possess more than 30 grams of cannabis if it is grown and secured in their residence under certain conditions.

As proposed, recreational dispensaries would be allowed in the community business and regional business zoning districts, meaning they would be located away from the city's downtown. In addition, they would have to be located at least 250 feet away from a school, day care facility or residential uses.

Two dispensaries could be located in the city – one on the east side and one on the west side of the Fox River. In addition, one of the dispensaries must have a minimum of one year's experience operating a medical marijuana dispensary in St. Charles. The second dispensary must have a minimum of one year's experience operating a medical marijuana dispensary within the state of Illinois, not necessarily in St. Charles.

Zen Leaf, a medical marijuana dispensary, currently operates at 3714 Illinois Ave. in St. Charles.

On-premise consumption lounges and production and distribution facilities would not be permitted as part of the committee's recommendation.

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