Evanston aldermen Monday are scheduled to vote on a resolution that would direct the Plan Commission to develop recommendations on whether to permit or prohibit some or all types of recreational cannabis businesses in the city.

Under the state law that will legalize recreational marijuana sales in Illinois in January, the city is free to permit, restrict or bar various types of recreational cannabis bsuinesses.

Evanston was among the first cities to approve medical marijuana sales when that was authorized by the state several years ago. It’s the landlord for the only medical marijuana dispensary in the city, PharmaCannis, located at 1804 Maple Ave. in the city’s Maple Avenue garage.

Existing zoning only permits medical cannabis dispensaries in the dark yellow areas on this map.

Under the city’s existing zoning, medical cannabis dispensaries would only be permitted in a few locations in Evanston, but the city could develop different rules for where to allow recreational cannabis businesses.

In addition to the two types of cannabis businesses created under the medical marijuana law — cultivation centers and dispensaries — the recreational marijuana law creates several new types of cannabis businesses, including

  • Craft growers — Small cultivation centers that could be co-located with a dispensary or other licensed cannabis business.
  • Infusers — Facilities that produce cannabis-infused products such as edibles.
  • Processors — Light industrial/manufacturing facilities that produce cannabis concentrates for sale to dispensaries and infusers.

Besides deciding whether and where to allow those types of businesses and whether to require special use permits for them, the city will also need to decide whether to allow on-premises consumption of cannabis at the businesses that sell it.

Cities are allowed by the state law to impose a tax of up to 3 percent of the retail purchase price on recreational cannabis sales. That’s part of an overall taxation scheme at the state and county level that is expected to add up to 40 to 45 percent of the retail sales price.

A city staff report notes that area communities are split in their response to the option to allow recreational marijuana sales.

It says Arlington Height, Buffalo Grove, Chicago, Niles, Northbrook, Oak Park and Skokie appear to be on track to approve sales, while Des Plaines, Glenview, Lake Forest, Libertyville, Naperville and Wilmette appear to be lining up to prohibit it.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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