Rolling Meadows could allow one recreational pot shop in town
Rolling Meadows officials have proposed rules to allow a single recreational marijuana store in the city -- one that would share space with the existing medical marijuana dispensary in town.
The city council on Tuesday night reviewed preliminary regulations that would permit the existing business, Nature's Care, to add recreational sales to their store at 975 Rohlwing Road when the state law that legalizes adult use takes effect Jan. 1.
Under the legislation approved by lawmakers in June, existing medical pot shops have first shot at expanding their facilities to include sales to recreational users.
None of the city's aldermen present for a committee meeting Tuesday night formally weighed in on the prospect of permitting recreational sales, though the council in September already unanimously approved a 3% local tax that would be captured if sales were allowed. A first reading vote on allowing recreational sales is scheduled for Tuesday, Nov. 26.
Alderman Kevin O'Brien did say of the handful of residents who contacted him about the issue, a majority were in favor.
And city staff have formally recommended zoning code changes to allow adult-use sales at the existing medical shop, which opened in 2016.
"Rolling Meadows has had a very good experience with Nature's Care as a medical dispensary in the community, and believes they will remain a responsible business partner in the evolution from a medical-only dispensary to an adult-use dispensary," city staff wrote in a memo to aldermen.
Earlier this month, the planning and zoning commission voted 6-0 to recommend the council approve the zoning code changes that would permit recreational sales.
Unlike neighboring communities such as Arlington Heights and Buffalo Grove -- where public comment during meetings lasted hours -- only two people came to the meeting Tuesday in Rolling Meadows to give their opinions.
On the pro side, Staci Tipsword argued there's already "more destructive" substances for sale in the city, like alcohol and tobacco. She also said Rolling Meadows could stand to benefit financially because of its local pot sales tax, since other towns, like Arlington Heights, have decided to ban sales.
"I think this is a great chance for Rolling Meadows to capitalize on it," Tipsword said. "We could certainly use the tax dollars."
Another resident, who only identified herself as Lynn, told aldermen that legalization will directly or indirectly give kids the message that recreational marijuana is OK.
"It will ruin the reputation of Rolling Meadows being a family-oriented community -- a community where generation after generation calls home," she said.
Under the draft local zoning rules proposed by city staff, only one dispensary would be allowed in the city as part of a "start-small" approach, though additional facilities could be approved later. Dispensaries and cultivation centers would be listed as special uses within the manufacturing zoning district, while craft growers, infusers and distribution facilities would be banned for now.
Many of the local regulations mirror those set up in 2013 when medical marijuana was legalized, such as a requirement that stores be at least 1,000 from schools and day care centers.