Trustees decide pot doesn’t align with Glencoe values

The Glencoe Board unanimously voted down a marijuana dispensary


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IL legalizes marijuana Jan. 1 but Glencoe pushes back

The Glencoe Board of Trustees voted unanimously against putting a marijuana dispensary in Glencoe on Nov. 21.

Illinois passed a change to the state law legalizing marijuana on Jan. 1, 2020. Because of this change, Glencoe and other towns including Northbrook have considered approving marijuana dispensaries.

Originally the Glencoe Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) voted 5-1 in favor of allowing dispensaries in Glencoe. Later, the Glencoe Board of Trustees then voted unanimously against the pot shops.

Glencoe resident and member of the ZBA, Alex Kaplan, was the only one to vote against putting a dispensary in Glencoe when the ZBA voted on the issue.

Kaplan said, “The major factor that played a role in my vote is that a marijuana dispensary is out of character with Glencoe’s values. I was straining for factors–facts justified by substantive research and material- to sway my vote to “yes,” but ultimately, none were sufficiently presented.”

Glencoe resident and a key leader of the movement against dispensaries, Karen Citow, also discussed the fact that marijuana dispensaries conflict with Glencoe’s values.

“There are a lot of things that are legal but which we have decided we do not want in Glencoe. For example, we don’t have a vaping store, a casino, a strip club, nor a pornography store. Glencoe is a very special place, and those of us lucky enough to live here have chosen this community specifically because it’s a safe, nurturing place to raise our families, and a community which reflects our values.”

The dramatic shift from the ZBA vote to the trustee vote is largely due to Glencoe residents, such as Citow, banding together to protest and to make their opposition known to the trustees.

“By the night of the Village Board meeting on Nov. 21, Glencoe Neighbors’ petition had over 750 signatures of residents opposed to pot shops in town, over 100 residents had written to the Board saying they were opposed (and why) to pot shops in town, and there were 120 yard signs on lawns across Glencoe. The night of the Village Board meeting we packed the house to standing room only with residents opposed to pot shops in town. Many people got up to speak to the board that night in opposition to pot shops in town including a toxicologist, an Emergency Room Doctor, a brain surgeon, a psychotherapist and a psychiatrist,” said Citow.

After a village meeting on Oct. 7, residents who did not support marijuana dispensaries helped to create the Glencoe Neighbors, a group of residents fighting against putting a dispensary in Glencoe.

The Glencoe Neighbors addressed specific safety concerns when it comes to people driving in Glencoe under the influence of marijuana.

According to the Glencoe Neighbors website, “Having a pot shop in Glencoe will mean our streets will be less safe as people will be driving around town underthe influence of drugs. When police suspect someone is driving under the influence of alcohol, they can administer a breathalyzer test and take them off the roads if they are unsafe. There is no equivalent to that test to detect whether someone is driving under the influence of pot.”

Glencoe’s President, Larry Levin, agreed that driving under the influence is important to consider.

Levin said “Driving under the influence of cannabis is a complex and serious problem. The legalization of cannabis has in itself materially increased the driving under the influence problem, including how you determine if a person is driving under the influence.”

However, Levin did not find that marijuana dispensaries themselves increase the threat to public safety.

“The experience of other states shows clearly that those wishing to use cannabis will find a means to acquire it. It is the legalization that materially changes the equation and materially increases the public safety issues,” said Levin.

Many students were in favor of Glencoe having dispensaries.

Senior Anna Feinerman agreed with Levin in that a dispensary would not threaten public safety. “It’s weed. It’s not like people don’t have access to dispensaries already. The dispensaries could be beneficial because they provide local business and the legalization of marijuana means that people won’t go out of their way to come to Glencoe because people will have their own dispensaries in their own towns,” said Feinerman.

Senior Bobby Becker discussed the importance of adults making their own choices.

“I think it’s about time to let grown adults make mature decisions about their own bodies when it comes to marijuana,” said Becker.

The Glencoe Neighbors expressed concerns with the effect that dispensaries will have on teenagers. On their website, Glencoe Neighbors asked residents to think about the mixed messaging that dispensaries send.

“Children and teenagers are watching this and us very carefully. They are supremely interested in seeing how we decide to navigate the new legislation legalizing recreational pot. We need to send them the right message,” said Glencoe Neighbors.

The Glencoe board of trustees mainly entertained the idea of having dispensaries in Glencoe because of tax benefits.

According to Levin, the Board was considering the tax revenue to help offset the increase in costs caused by its legalization.

“I believe given all the unfunded mandates the state is imposing on Glencoe, we need to find ways to generate more revenue to protect our residents,” said Levin.

Senior Isabella Spiliopolous said, “Having dispensaries in Glencoe could bring in more revenue for the area, but I could understand how people wouldn’t want that because they don’t agree with the new law passing.”

According to the Village of Glencoe website, the Village projects that it might take in up to $40K in revenue if Glencoe had a dispensary with annual sales of $1 million. However, forty thousand dollars is only 0.1% of Glencoe’s total government budget.

Junior Max Russo addressed the benefits of dispensaries when it comes to mental health.

“I don’t know the full demographics of Glencoe, but I think a marijuana dispensary would be beneficial because many people struggle with mental health issues. A dispensary would be both a source of business and a source of relief for people,” said Russo.

While marijuana can be used for mental health reasons, it can also lead to addiction for teenagers as the teenage brain is still developing and particularly vulnerable.

Citow, a clinical psychotherapist discussed the impact of a dispensary on teenagers in the community.

“If the schools are working hard to tell our children and adolescents that drugs are dangerous and harmful and that they should not do drugs, it would be hypocritical for the village to send a mixed message by allowing pot to be sold in town,” said Citow.

Many Glencoe residents were happy with the unanimous decision to not allow dispensaries in Glencoe.

“Our children will see that we put their best interests and safety first. They will also see that in Glencoe, we don’t compromise