Public Hearing on Cannabis Sales in Park Forest Tuesday at Freedom Hall

Village Board discusses cannabis tax
The Village Board discusses a 3% tax on the sale of recreational cannabis at its September 23, 2019, Rules Meeting. (eNews Park Forest)

Village Board Pondered and Passed a Pot Tax in September

Park Forest, IL-(ENEWSPF)- The Village of Park Forest will hold a public hearing Tuesday on cannabis sales at Freedom Hall on Tuesday, October 8, at 7:00 p.m.

Mayor Jon Vanderbilt told eNews Park Forest this meeting “will be the actual Planning and Zoning Commission meeting and then during the commission meeting will actually be the discussion of the cannabis sale ordinance to go through.” During this meeting, there will be an “open floor for public comment in regards to the sale and use of cannabis.”

“Just to reiterate, even if you are in your car from another community, you buy it, you can still drive right through our community if you were to buy it,” Mayor Vanderbilt said. “You would still be able to use it in your backyard, in your house if you are a medical cannabis user.”

On January 1, 2020, the State of Illinois will permit licensed businesses to sell, grow, and process adult-use recreational cannabis. The Village of Park Forest is currently in the process of determining whether or not to permit these businesses to operate within the Village. To that end, the Village’s Planning and Zoning Commission will conduct the Public Hearing at Freedom Hall, 410 Lakewood Boulevard, Park Forest, Illinois, to consider making Text Amendments to the Unified Development Ordinance (Zoning). The proposed Text Amendments would regulate Adult-Use Cannabis Business Establishments as permitted by Illinois Public Act 101-0027 (Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act).

The public hearing will give residents an opportunity to voice their support or concerns regarding the sale of recreational cannabis in Park Forest.

“That is where we will really get the public feedback,” Mayor Vanderbilt said, “because there is our cultivation centers and training to be ‘budtenders.’ So, there are companies right now that it’s a serious thing right now to be a budtender.”

Yes, that’s “budtender,” a position that requires training and licensing in Illinois.

“Instead of a bartender you are now a budtender,” the mayor said, “and you have to be trained. If somebody comes in inebriated you are going to have to be trained to say, ‘Well, that person cannot be sold to.'”

Mayor Vanderbilt said that, in addition to a budtender’s license, any recreational marijuana dispensary will be required to have license plate readers in the parking lot, a much stronger requirement than any for establishments selling alcohol. Alcohol, a toxin, or poison, is far more dangerous than marijuana, according to peer-reviewed scientific studies.

“If you go into their parking lot, the license plate will be read by a license plate reader by the company,” Mayor Vanderbilt said. “As you walk into the building, you have to have facial recognition. So, this is going to be a very secure site. The state police at any time can monitor their feeds and pull up a feed and they can see exactly what is going on at the store, the state police will have total control of what if going on inside and see it at all times and all access.”

“A licence plate reader for the parking lot and facial recognition to enter the building and then the state police and local municipality, of course, but this is just saying so locals will have a jurisdiction as well, but the state police and local will be able to pull up the security monitor feeds, pull up the drivers license of those who came through, so, it’s a very transparent option here,” Mayor Vanderbilt said.

At the Village Board meeting of September 23, the board passed an ordinance setting a 3% sales tax on “receipts from the sales made in the course of that business.” This tax does not apply to cannabis purchased under the Illinois Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act.

The board passed this tax in case the Village decides to permit the sale of recreational cannabis. Per the Illinois Public Act 101-0027 (Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act), municipalities were required to pass such a tax by September 30, 2019, or they would have had to wait two years to enact a sales tax on cannabis sales.

Village Manager Tom Mick said at the September 23 meeting that, as the staff was going through the process of considering the sale of recreational cannabis in the community, “We learned from legal counsel last week that there’s a caveat to the public act that says municipalities have the ability to leverage a sales tax for any potential sales of marijuana. However, they have to adopt that ordinance by no later than September 30 of this year.”

Adoption of this tax ordinance does not obligate the board or the community to allow for recreational sales, Mr. Mick said.

Here’s the discussion on that item from the September 23 meeting (ENEWSPF-TV video):

The Village notes in a statement that individuals wishing to speak will have no more than five minutes each, on a first-come-first-served basis. The public hearing will be open for comments for 90 minutes or until the last person has spoken, whichever comes first, after which the Commission will deliberate and make its recommendation to the Board of Trustees on this matter. Comments may also be submitted in writing prior to the hearing to the Department of Economic Development and Planning, Village Hall, 350 Victory Drive, Park Forest, or at the hearing.

A copy of the proposed Ordinance revisions and additional information regarding the petition is on file with the Department of Economic Development and Planning.