GENEVA – The Kane County voted Tuesday to prohibit marijuana business establishments in the unincorporated areas of the county.
After a lengthy discussion, the vote was 14-9 with one absent not to allow any cannabis-related businesses covering including dispensing, cultivating, processing, infusing, transporting and growing.
The ordinance also states that if anyone performs any of the prohibited actions, it would be declared a public nuisance.
One of those voting with the majority was Board Member Drew Frasz, R-Elburn, who cited concerns from Kane County Sheriff Ron Hain about the potential for an increase in crime around these establishments.
Frasz said more rural areas of the county might have to wait 20 minutes for a deputy to respond to an issue.
“So I’ll be voting no on this,” Frasz said. “I do not want to put an additional burden on the Sheriff’s office.”
Board Member Bill Lenert, R-Sugar Grove, agreed, saying coupled with a budget cut of $2.7 million to the sheriff’s department, putting more responsibility on deputies would be unfair.
But Board Member Chris Kious, D-Algonquin, countered that his experience with family who live in states where cannabis is legal do not reflect an increase in crime.
“I have difficulty correlating the stories of bad things that will happen here if we allow this in our county,” Kious said. “I implore the board to be rational and try to avoid hyperbole.”
Board Member Angela Thomas, D-Aurora, said she was not in favor of recreational marijuana, but said elected officials would be remiss in their duty to increase revenue for the count.
“It’s here, like it or not,” Thomas said of legalized cannabis.
“I would be voting no for this (ordinance) because it would prohibit all businesses related to the industry, not just distributors, but users, growers, transporters. That’s not just a loss of tax revenue, it’s a loss of jobs – a potential loss of jobs – which could also translate into fewer dollars circulating in our county.”
But Board Member Douglas Scheflow, R-Elgin, countered that the dispensaries handle a lot of cash and would be subject to being robbed.
“A year from now, we could change our mind,” Scheflow said.
Board Member Clifford Surges, R-Gilberts, said the cash-business issue for dispensaries has to do with marijuana being illegal at the federal level.
Board Member Anita Lewis, D-Aurora, suggested the county wait a year and see how licensing dispensaries plays out among municipalities.
But Board Member Jarett Sanchez, D-Carpentersville, said he sensed the “fear and paranoia in people who have not tried it.”
Sanchez when he followed up on claims that crime increased more than 1,000% and found there was no strong relationship between those numbers and cannabis businesses.
“We have had a medical marijuana program here for 2 1/2 years or so. I talk to business owners in the industry, there is no crime issue, there are no crime waves,” Sanchez said. “Because of the fact that they’re not federally insured, these places are built like Fort Knox. … You cannot get to the money in these places. If you’ve seen ‘Ocean’s 11,’ you would have to go to that level to get the cannabis money out of those safes.”
Then with a nod to the late First Lady Nancy Reagan’s anti-drug campaign, Sanchez advised his fellow board members, “I recommend you just say no,” to making cannabis dispensaries and related businesses prohibited in the county.
Board members laughed.
And then the majority had the last laugh as they voted to prohibit cannabis dispensaries and related businesses in the unincorporated areas of the county.