Steve Glinke, the village’s Director of Building, Planning and Zoning, offered some informed observations during a recent Planning and Zoning Committee meeting regarding the possible opening of a cannabis dispensary in Forest Park.
Some background from “Forest Park May Allow Cannabis Dispensaries on Madison Street” (FP Review, May 17, 2022): “During the Sept. 12, 2019 hearing on how Forest Park would handle the impending recreational cannabis legalization, residents raised concerns about public health issues, education and outreach, safety surrounding the facility itself and whether it would be a strain on the local police department.”
Mr. Glinke rightly reflected on what was said in 2019, and came to this conclusion: the hearings “offered a lot of hyperbole, the fear of the unknown.” The antidote to the “fear of the unknown” turns out to be real-world experience, observation, and research, as Mr. Glinke noted that since 2019, “the village had a chance to look at dispensaries in Oak Park, Melrose Park, Elmwood Park and Chicago, and consult with the neighboring police departments. The safety concerns…simply didn’t pan out.”
There’s another likely reason Mr. Glinke and the Planning and Zoning Committee are interested (as they should be) in attracting a dispensary to Forest Park: “Marijuana generates a 5% sales tax…it’s a cash cow, and I think the boogieman is gone.”
If this “fear of the unknown” reminds you of anything, it should. The same fear dominated the discourse around video gaming. “I believe it (video gaming) causes an increase in the crime rate,” asserted a Forest Park resident in this newspaper in 2018. (One doesn’t need to search this newspaper’s archives for very long to find many similar sentiments.)
It’s time for the village to do for video gaming what it did for cannabis dispensaries. Do the research. Talk to the police and government officials in Berwyn and North Riverside and elsewhere. Look at our own village’s police reports from the time video gaming was here. And present the findings impartially.
For the record, video gaming in Illinois generates 5% tax proceeds for towns such as ours, the same as marijuana sales would. Unless there’s evidence to the contrary, it’s difficult to imagine that the return of video gaming wouldn’t also be a “boogieman-free cash cow.” Why wouldn’t our village welcome both?