YORKVILLE – A proposed ordinance that would prohibit adult use marijuana sales in unincorporated areas of the county has died in the Kendall County Board’s Committee of the Whole.
The committee voted, 6-3, against the measure during its Thursday, Sept. 12, meeting at the county’s office building, 111 W. Fox St., Yorkville. The action means the county opts in to adult use cannabis sales by default.
County Board members Scott Gengler, Tony Giles and Judy Gilmour voted in favor of the ordinance. Audra Hendrix, Matt Prochaska, Amy Cesich, Matt Kellogg, Robyn Vickers and chairman Scott Gryder voted against. Elizabeth Flowers was absent from the meeting.
County Board Chairman Scott Gryder said he has seen numbers that suggest traffic accidents and fatalities have increased, along with the black market for marijuana still being prevalent because the legal product is heavily taxed. However, he said, the question at hand is not whether the county should make its use legal, since the state already determined that.
“It’s whether or not we opt in or out of the program that’s already been legalized by the state of Illinois,” Gryder said. “I do want to remind everybody that’s why we’re here today.”
County Board Vice Chairman Amy Cesich said she agreed with Gryder’s point about the purpose of the committee’s discussion. She said she believes it’s the county’s responsibility to zone, regulate and tax it for the benefit of other facets of the county, including the sheriff’s office.
“My point is, it’s here,” Cesich said. “Let’s be responsible about it.”
Giles, who also is a teacher at Oswego East High School, said he’s against legalizing recreational marijuana use in general, citing concerns about respiratory failure in kids as a result of vaping and THC products not helping the problem.
If the county were to opt in for sales, he said, the county is basically saying smoking is OK and that the county would be endorsing that kind of behavior.
“At some point, you have to stand up for what’s right, even if you’re standing alone,” Giles said.
County Board member Audra Hendrix, who voted against the ordinance, said not selling marijuana in the county won’t change behavior, the rate of traffic isn’t any higher in states where it’s legalized than in states that haven’t legalized it and it could help with reducing incidents of illicit marijuana use in youth decreases. She said she was citing a report from the Drug Policy Alliance, a nonprofit organization that supports legalizing marijuana use.
Giles said his concerns with the report Hendrix was citing included Democratic philanthropist George Soros’ heavy involvement in the organization and what biases that may imply.
Janet Kenyon of Bristol said during public comment after the vote that she was disappointed with the end result. She said the county didn’t need to resort to adult use cannabis sales for extra revenue for communities and schools, it will increase expenses that would come back to stakeholders and the decision may cause her to re-evaluate her choice of residence.
“You failed me, people,” Kenyon said. “You failed me.”
Gryder said the next steps will include the county continuing to address the zoning aspect of adult use cannabis, which is set to go before the county’s regional planning commission during its 7 p.m. Sept. 25 meeting. The proposed zoning amendment then would go to the county Zoning Board of Appeals at 7 p.m. Monday, Sept. 30, for a public hearing, and is set to come back to the Planning, Building and Zoning Committee in November.