Will Wilmette’s advisory referendum on cannabis sales matter or will residents’ collective opinion go up in smoke?
Step 1 to answering that question will come Thursday, Feb. 4, when the Wilmette Village Board will decide during a special meeting whether to advance a proposal to allow recreational cannabis sales in town limits.
“We’re seeking to see if there’s a majority of support on the Village Board to consider locations of cannabis dispensaries,” Wilmette Village Manager Michael Braiman said. “If there is, we will refer the matter to the land use committee for more in-depth review. If there is not majority support, the board would direct staff to prohibit dispensaries.”
A third option, Braiman said, is if trustees table the discussion to another special meeting.
As previously broken down by The Record, the Village of Wilmette has been reviewing recreational cannabis sales since the summer of 2019. Trustees eventually prohibited the in-village sale of recreational cannabis prior to the legalization of such sales by the State of Illinois in January 2020.
Village officials reintroduced the measure in the summer of 2020 to set up a ballot question to garner public opinion on the matter.
At that time, Wilmette’s neighboring communities Skokie and Evanston allowed recreational cannabis sales, and a large dispensary was being developed just outside Wilmette at Skokie Boulevard and Old Orchard Road.
The November referendum, which was nonbinding and boosted by a record voter turnout, resulted in 56.4 percent of residents in favor of in-town cannabis sales.
Thursday marks the first time officials will discuss the issue since November.
“It’s an important data point, but it’s one of many,” Braiman said of the referendum. “We’re continuing to solicit feedback from the community and from residents who have strong opinions one way or the other.
“There is public safety, and the financial side of it as well. None of them rises above the other to be the sole determining factor.”
If trustees decide the matter needs further Village review, they will send it to the land use committee, which will research and evaluate potential locations for a recreational-cannabis dispensary.
Another neighboring town, the Village of Northfield, has followed a similar path to Wilmette’s. After initially prohibiting sales, the village board reversed course on Jan. 19 to allow them in certain areas in town.
Residents interested in submitting a comment prior to the Village Board meeting can email: email@example.com. Interested parties can also speak during the public comment portion of the virtual meeting on Thursday, Feb. 4, by watching live here starting at 7:30 p.m.
For more information on the village’s cannabis discussions, click here.
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