Forest Park moved a promising step closer to allowing the sale, and if we’re lucky, the cultivation, of recreational marijuana within our four borders.
A lightly attended town hall meeting last week brought out two dozen citizens eager for information, open to listening and ready to explain both their support for the idea and their concerns.
We’re supportive of Forest Park permitting, with properly written zoning restrictions, both the sale and cultivation of marijuana. Here’s why. On Jan. 1, 2020 recreational marijuana will be legal in Illinois. Simple. Period. Forest Parkers will be able to legally purchase and use these products. And some notable portion of our fellow citizens will do just that.
Let’s make sure that when they do, when our neighbors in Berwyn and Oak Park and River Forest and Maywood, purchase pot legally, that they are doing it in Forest Park. It is a new and ongoing source of tax revenue, and with a possible cultivation plant likely on Industrial Drive, it is a source of added property taxes and jobs.
We all know that Forest Park needs added revenue. Here’s a good option ready for our action. The town hall meeting actually included a potential vendor who made clear Forest Park was his top choice location.
Among the concerns raised by citizens were added strain on local police, dealing with marijuana-related issues. The evidence so far, largely out of Colorado, is that the sale and cultivation of legal pot does not result in added police calls. If, though, users of legal marijuana products act out and require police intervention, and we’re not predicting any surge, that will happen regardless of where the product is purchased.
A final note: Allowing, or not allowing, the sale of recreational marijuana is a decision to be made by our elected village council. Holding town halls is an excellent step in that decision-making process. Public discussion of specific zoning requirements, including making any approvals a conditional use that must come back to the council, is the right course. There is no need, however, for anyone to consider a referendum. These are the decisions we elect the council to make.
Comparisons to the fully gummed-up and years-long video gaming debacle are not relevant. As we’ve said a dozen times on this page, that issue became one of defending local democracy. As a rule, we do not favor settling local issues by referendum. That’s why we elect a council. If they act transparently and in a timely manner, if council members stay out of the weeds, so to speak, this is where the decision on the legal sale of recreational marijuana ought to be made.