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Local

Minooka says no to recreational marijuana businesses

Pictured at the Nov. 26, 2019 meeting of the Minooka Village Board are (from left) village administrator Dan Duffy, Mayor Pat Brennan, and village attorney Christian G. Spesia.
Pictured at the Nov. 26, 2019 meeting of the Minooka Village Board are (from left) village administrator Dan Duffy, Mayor Pat Brennan, and village attorney Christian G. Spesia.

The Minooka Village Board voted to prohibit marijuana business establishments without much fanfare at its meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 26.

Still, the vote was not unanimous.

Trustees Chad Hrechko, Dennis Martin, Ric Offerman and Dick Parrish voted in favor of the ban, and Trustees Terry Houchens and Barry Thompson voted against it.

No residents spoke at the public hearing section of the meeting, which surprised Mayor Pat Brennan. Still, some of the trustees said they’d been hearing from residents about their opinions.

Houchens even said he had changed his mind in favor of allowing marijuana businesses after conversations with his neighbors, even though he felt some still struggled with the morality of the issue.

“Most people were OK with it, which actually surprised me,” Houchens said.

Thompson said it “made a lot of sense” for the village to tax and regulate sales within its borders, especially because its neighbors in Morris and Joliet were on the their way to allowing businesses.

Still, Parrish said he disagreed with his colleague citing worries about young people like his grandchildren being exposed. He added the overwhelming majority of residents he’s spoken to were against allowing marijuana businesses in town.

“I just think I want to keep the town as clean as we possibly can,” Parrish said. “And I think when you introduce a drug to the town, I think you put a little bit of a damper on that.”

When the state legislature passed the Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act earlier this year, it allowed for municipalities to “opt out” of allowing marijuana business establishments within their borders, including cultivators, dispensaries, infusers, craft growers, processors and transporters.

Minooka is just the latest municipality to opt out of allowing marijuana businesses. While the city of Morris voted to allow recreational cannabis sales, the Grundy County Board has prohibited the sales in unincorporated parts of the county.

Brennan said he can foresee a day when the communities that have prohibited stores might rethink the decision down the road, after concerns are worked out at the state level.

“As soon as they get the rules all straightened out downstate,” Brennan said. “I think we can look at it again maybe a year from now, or maybe less than that.”

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