FILE - Legal recreational marijuana, cannabis, weed

Strains at a recreational marijuana dispensary in Denver, Colorado. (My 420 Tours | Wikimedia via Creative Commons)

 While some municipalities have decided to prohibit recreational cannabis sales within their boundaries, a couple of counties have voted to ban it as well. 

On the same day, officials in DuPage County in the suburban Chicago area and Franklin County in Southern Illinois both voted against allowing cannabis sales in unincorporated areas of their counties. The ban would not preempt a municipality in those counties from allowing recreational sales though. 

Both counties also voted to tack an extra tax on any cannabis sold in their local towns that allow it.

In a September hearing on the issue, DuPage County Sheriff James Mendrick didn’t push one way or another on the vote to allow sales, but did say recreational cannabis would come with a cost. 

“With the speed and the way this was written, we’re really not ready for this, but we are going to meet the challenge because we have to,” he said. 

DuPage County State’s Attorney Robert Berlin opposed legalization. He cited studies from Colorado showing crime and teen use of cannabis increased after recreational use was legalized.

“For ages 12 and older, teenage use was 85 percent higher than the national average,” he said.

A 2018 report from the Colorado Division of Criminal Justice found teen usage had not increased after legalization, but driving fatalities had increased.

Opponents in Franklin County were concerned about the same issues, according to the Southern Illinoisan, also wondering if there were ways to outlaw recreational use despite the state's new law.  

Proponents of legalizing recreational cannabis point to the criminalization of the drug that has put a generation of young minority men in prison. Part of Illinois’ legalization law expunges low-level cannabis offenses. 

Illinois’ recreational cannabis law takes effect Jan. 1. 

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.