FILE - marijuana

In this July 1, 2017, file photo, a cashier rings up a marijuana sale at a cannabis dispensary in Las Vegas.

Municipal officials continue to navigate the finer points of the state's new recreational marijuana law, including what they can and cannot do to regulate use at the local level.

Illinois recreational cannabis law takes effect Jan. 1. However, many municipalities are still debating on the local rules they’ll set for any potential sale of the federally-prohibited drug. Ancel Glink attorneys Dan Bolin and Kurt Asprooth recently took questions at the American Planning Association Illinois State Conference in Evanston. 

One official asked if cities could ban onsite use of cannabis at a dispensary.

“The sponsors of the bill that passed this legislation are actually saying that you cannot smoke on-premises in any dispensary, only outside of a dispensary at, like, a cannabis lounge or a hookah lounge,” Asprooth said. “The way the law reads, it is only at a dispensary ... or other cannabis business.”

A common question that Asprooth said he often explains to local officials is that they will not be able to prohibit the use of cannabis, only regulate the sale. 

“It’s going to be legal everywhere,” he said. “Even if they prohibit the businesses within their corporate limits, somebody is going to be able to go next door, buy it, and bring it back into their community and use it. There’s really nothing you can do to prevent people from using cannabis now within your community.”

Other questions that could still be up in the air, according to the discussion, were issues of regulating what hours a dispensary could operate, and if city officials could regulate cannabis based on proximity to schools, producing a de facto ban, of sorts.

Landlords will still be able to ban cannabis use of any kind inside their rental units, Bolin said.

Staff Reporter

Cole Lauterbach reports on Illinois government and statewide issues for The Center Square. He has produced radio shows for stations in Bloomington/Normal and Peoria, and created award-winning programs for Comcast SportsNet Chicago.