Wilmette voters appear to give positive opinion on local cannabis sales; Village to make decision in first half of 2021
(Editor’s Note: Updated voting results were added to this story after the original story was published in the early hours of Wednesday, Nov. 4)
Cannabis sales within town limits are OK with most Wilmette voters, according to unofficial election results from the Cook County Clerk’s Office.
The Village of Wilmette placed a nonbinding referendum on the General Election ballot to collect the community’s opinion on whether to allow cannabis dispensaries in the village.
With 22 of 22 precincts reporting and 12,236 votes counted as of Wednesday morning, Nov. 4, 55.4 percent of Wilmette voters, or 6,648 individuals, said “Yes,” while 44.56 percent (5,344) responded “No.”
It is unclear if all mail-in votes have been counted as of press time.
As previously reported by The Record, Wilmette trustees in October of 2019 proactively denied in-town cannabis sales in advance of the state’s legalization of recreational marijuana at the start of 2020.
At that time, trustees also directed staff to build an advisory referendum for the 2020 General Election to get the opinion of voters at a time that would optimize community participation, according to Village Manager Mike Braiman.
Braiman added that Village officials will take that opinion into account as they mull an official decision in 2021.
Other important factors will be: revenue potential, crime and policing impacts, and traffic repercussions.
Fortunately, the village has real, local data to review. While many nearby villages (Winnetka, Glenview, Kenilworth and Glencoe) have banned sales, others such as Skokie, Evanston, Northbrook, Niles, Buffalo Grove and Deerfield allow cannabis sales. Northfield, Park Ridge and Highland Park may soon as well.
Though data is limited, Evanston (opened Jan. 1), Buffalo Grove (not yet open), Northbrook (Oct. 1) and Skokie (Sept. 3) are estimating anywhere from $350,000 to $600,000 in annual revenue from a single facility.
Wilmette officials plan to review all of the above and begin discussion in early 2021, Braiman said, who added that the board will be busy finalizing the 2021 budget in the final two months of 2020.
The village’s current moratorium on in-town cannabis sales expires on June 30, 2021, which gives the Village seven months to make a formal decision on the legality of local cannabis sales.
Joe Coughlin is a co-founder and the editor in chief of The Record. He leads investigative reporting and reports on anything else needed. Joe has been recognized for his investigative reporting and sports reporting, feature writing and photojournalism. Follow Joe on Twitter @joec2319