As marijuana businesses find growing acceptance in the suburbs, DuPage County Board members are considering whether to lift a ban on retail pot stores in unincorporated areas.
County board member Liz Chaplin said more and more towns that had previously rejected recreational sales have since voted to allow shops within their borders. She’s called on the county board to revisit the issue.
Illinois legalized recreational marijuana in 2020, but towns and counties were able to opt out of sales. DuPage County Board members voted 10-8 in October 2019 to prohibit cultivation centers, craft growers and other adult-use cannabis businesses from setting up shop in unincorporated areas.
At the same time, the board imposed a 3% tax on all retail sales of recreational cannabis in municipalities. If DuPage allows cannabis to be sold in unincorporated areas, the county can place a tax of up to 3.75% on the sales.
Most of the state-licensed dispensaries that are currently operating in the county are concentrated on the southwest side of DuPage, in Naperville; the center of the county, in Villa Park, Oakbrook Terrace and Lombard; and in Addison.
That distribution leaves a “bit of a desert sort of in the northwest portion of the county,” Hoss told board members.
“It is also a convenience issue for those that are looking to use marijuana recreationally or for medical purposes, whatever their issue may be,” Chaplin said.
“Those might be better locations for some of these dispensaries than what might be offered in the municipalities,” Chaplin said.
Using those general criteria, Hoss said there are conceivably 141 sites that “in theory” could be available for dispensaries. That’s a raw number, Hoss said, and doesn’t take into account any additional county zoning restrictions that could be placed on a facility.
County officials, however, anticipate only a handful of dispensary owners could be granted state licenses to do business in unincorporated areas.
“Given what we know and how the licenses are being doled out, we’d probably generate two to three more dispensaries in unincorporated DuPage if we decided to go with it,” Tornatore said.