Council Discusses Recreational Marijuana

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Governor J.B. Pritzker recently introduced a bill that would legalize the sale and possession of recreational marijuana statewide. And with the Democratic Party in control of the Illinois House and Senate, Illinois becoming the 11th state to legalize cannabis is likely.

City council discussed what that means for Naperville at its most recent meeting.

“Will we see an increase in crime? Will we see a decrease in medical calls? What have other similar communities like ours seen after legalization that we should consider?” asked Councilwoman Patty Gustin.

Public Safety Still Researching

Police Chief Robert Marshall and Fire Chief Mark Puknaitis said their departments are in the process of looking through the proposed 335-page bill, but it’s still early to speculate.

“There are some cases when drugs are introduced legally. Sometimes those drugs, if they’re taken properly, cause a decrease in the number of calls,” said Puknaitis. “For instance, drugs that help individuals with high blood pressure or cardiac situations. So the story is yet to be told. We watch the data on a daily basis and we will continue to do that and make an assessment as time goes on.”

Banning Sale is An Option

If the bill is passed at the state level, City Attorney Michael DiSanto said there isn’t a way to block legalized recreational cannabis at the municipal level, but banning the sale of it is an option.

“The opt-out for communities is just for the sale of marijuana. So that it doesn’t prevent people from buying it and bringing it in,” said Mayor Steve Chirico. “So what you’ve done is made it less convenient for people to get it who choose to, but you’re not preventing its use. So that’s something to take into consideration because now you’ve got all the consequences of legalized marijuana but none of the benefits. No sales tax generation.”

More Information to Come

City staff and the public safety chiefs will present a report on the repercussions of legalized recreational marijuana at a later meeting. If the bill passes, it will not come into effect until 2020.

Naperville News 17’s Casey Krajewski reports.