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Village Board discusses cannabis in Lansing

by Melanie Jongsma

LANSING, Ill. (December 10, 2019) – “Discussion of this issue tonight is not meant to convey that the Village is pushing us to adopt cannabis zoning,” said Village Administrator Dan Podgorski at the November 19 Committee of the Whole meeting. “It’s just meant to initiate discussion.”

As an example of why such discussion is necessary, Podgorski let the Board members know that Lansing is already receiving calls from cannabis dispensary owners looking for potential business locations, largely because of Lansing’s easy access from the expressway and proximity to the Indiana border.

The need to take action

Village Attorney Matt Welch added that because the state has mandated that possession and private use of cannabis will be legal as of January 1, 2020, Lansing does need to take some kind of action. “If we do nothing,” said Welch, “there are no regulations; it’s going to be a permitted use. So it’s not something we can stick our head in the sand. It’s something that needs to be explored and figured out what’s in the best interest of this community.”

Welch listed some regulation scenarios the Trustees might consider. For example, if the Board agrees that limits should be put on cannabis dispensaries in Lansing, there are a number of ways to define such limits:

  • Cannabis dispensaries could be limited to specific geographic zones.
  • Cannabis dispensaries could be prohibited within a certain distance from other types of businesses (schools, for example).
  • The Board could limit the total number of cannabis dispensaries permitted in the Village, as has been done with salons, massage parlors, and other types of businesses.
  • The Board could require that cannabis sales require a special use permit.

In addition, according to state law, each municipality does have the right to decide to completely prohibit the sale of cannabis.

Impacting law enforcement

Attorney Welch also reported that the January 1 legalization of cannabis will impact law enforcement, particularly because there are currently no technologies in place that police can use to reliably determine whether someone is driving under the influence of cannabis. “There’s a lot of false positives with the current technologies,” Welch told the Board, “so what you’re left with is taking someone in for a blood test, which can tell whether it’s in your system, but it doesn’t necessarily tell you if you’re currently intoxicated.”

The Trustees asked a number of questions for clarification about available options and about the deadline by which a decision should be made. Welch provided answers and examples. At the end of approximately 20 minutes of discussion, Administrator Podgorski invited the Trustees to digest the information and then give feedback to himself or Attorney Welch.

Continued discussion

Discussion continued at the December 3 Committee of the Whole meeting. Attorney Welch had provided Trustees with a sample ordinance adopted by another municipality prohibiting the issuance of a business license to any adult-use cannabis business establishment.

“No adult-use cannabis business establishment will be eligible to receive a business license,” explained Welch. “Therefore they will be ineligible to operate in the village.”

Adopting such an ordinance now would give Lansing Trustees additional time to consider and potentially develop more specific regulations about zoning or limits if they decide later to allow cannabis-related businesses within the village but want specified controls over the granting of licenses.

After a few more questions and answers, Trustee Saad Abbasy said, “To have time to sit on this and see how it shakes out, to see what our residents feel, to see what other villages experience—it seems like a wise approach.”

“I think this is a smart way for us to move,” agreed Administrator Podgorski. “Would the Board be comfortable having Attorney Welch draft a similar ordinance which would regulate the business licenses and prohibit the issuance of any business licenses for adult-use cannabis at this point in time? And then in a year, or 18 months, or two years, or whenever the Board feels it’s time to revisit the issue—if they feel that way—after some of the legislation settles in and we see how other municipalities are dealing with it, then the Board could take up the zoning issue at that point in time.”

With the Board’s assent, Podgorski and Welch agreed to work together on a Lansing version of an ordinance for Trustees to review.

Residents who would like to weigh in on the subject of cannabis—or any municipal matters—are invited to contact their representatives directly:

Village Board meetings and Committee of the Whole meetings take place at the Municipal Court Complex (the police station) at 2710 170th Street on the first and third Tuesdays of the month. The next meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, December 17 at 7:00pm.

The Municipal Court Complex (Lansing Police Department) is located at 2710 170th Street in Lansing, Illinois. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)
Melanie Jongsma
Melanie Jongsma
Melanie Jongsma grew up in Lansing, Illinois, and believes The Lansing Journal has an important role to play in building community through trustworthy information.


    • Not reason enough to unleash this beast, Mr. Krauss. Once running free, we will never be able to contain it. Maybe there are additional ways to pay for infrastructure besides the following: grants, tax incentives, prices paid at Fox Point to enter events in the future, etc.

      Now is the time for creativity instead of the lesser of two evils.

  1. There is no beast, and if there is it was unleashed decades ago. Cannabis is already being used and sold in Lansing, we’re just not getting a cut of it, and those who are selling it could be dangerous individuals. If there is any downside to allowing legal cannabis in Lansing it is FAR outweighed by the positives which include revenue for other businesses in the vicinity as well as lowering black market sales where people may be robbed or worse.

  2. Legal or not, marijuana sales will happen in Lansing. We are blind if we don’t take the opportunity to make these sales more safe. Along with the tax that would be generated, there is also added jobs. We have no problem with the sales of other intoxicating substances, there’s two liquor stores within one block of each other, a bar across the street between them and another just a few more streets away. Not to mention, on the busiest Street in town for foot traffic.
    The addition of a recreational sales facility would be a positive for many reasons, we as a community just need to be on the same page with fact over opinion. If we allow alcohol sales, gun sales, tobacco sales and drug stores (opioids are far worse and we all know this), then the sale and allowance of use of something much less dangerous shouldn’t be overlooked.

  3. The Normal Police Department wanted to share a few thoughts and information. Here are the do’s and don’ts for legal marijuana, which begins January 1, 2020:
    Illinois residents over the age of 21 can possess up to 30 grams of marijuana, up to 500 milligrams of THC infused products and up to 5 grams of cannabis concentrate. Non-Illinois residents, you can possess half of those values.
    Marijuana must be purchased from a regulated marijuana dispensary. This means, if you purchase your marijuana from your buddy down the block, you and your buddy will still be arrested. Sorry, but if you are a street pharmacist, the war on drugs rages on.
    Some of you green thumbers will be allowed to grow cannabis in your own homes, but you will need a Medical Cannabis card to do so. If you have such a card, you can’t sell or give away any personally grown cannabis, cannabis plants or cannabis-infused products. If you grow it, they can’t come (imagine the Field of Dreams version of marijuana growing voice here)
    Students, if you rent an apartment or condo you MUST follow your landlords lease rules. No Smoking means No Smoking and can be a lease violation.
    No one under 18 can possess marijuana.
    Cannabis must be consumed in the privacy of a residence and can’t be used in public places or vehicles. If you smoke marijuana in your vehicles you will face steep fines and your driving privileges can be suspended.
    Legally purchased cannabis must remain in the package in which it was purchased and during transport, in a sealed; odor-proof; child resistant cannabis container. All illegal cannabis (aka the devil’s lettuce) can still be packaged in the corner baggies hidden in purple or green Crown Royal bags, which will then be packaged in our evidence bags, because it’s illegal and we will arrest you for it. Sorry the war on drugs rages on for you folks that can’t follow the legal marijuana laws.
    We ask that everyone who chooses to consume marijuana do so legally and responsibly. Never, under any circumstances consume marijuana and operate a motor vehicle

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