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Suburban voters give thumbs up to recreational weed sales in their hometowns

Referendums allowed votes on whether marijuana should be sold in towns ranging from Naperville to Lemont. Here is how residents voted.

Voters in some Chicago suburbs voted Tuesday to allow recreational marijuana sales in their municipalities.
Associated Press

Bud was on the ballot Tuesday in some Chicago suburbs — and a vast majority of voters said “yes” to allowing recreational pot sales in their hometowns.

A majority of voters in Naperville, Rosemont, Cicero, Northlake and Westchester cast ballots in favor of allowing weed to be sold to adults for recreational use. Meanwhile, voters in Lemont rejected it.

Though marijuana was fully legalized across Illinois at the start of the year, cities and towns can still prohibit stores from selling recreational marijuana. And while none of Tuesday’s ballot initiatives are binding, the results will inform local leaders who have the final say in whether to permit those sales.

Opposing groups have been battling it out over recreational weed in recent months in Naperville, where the local city council voted in September to bar those sales. On Tuesday, voters in the western suburb were asked: “Shall the City of Naperville, in light of state legislation legalizing the possession, consumption, and sale of recreational adult use cannabis, allow the sale of recreational adult-use cannabis within its jurisdiction?”

Of the nearly 20,000 votes cast, over 55% were supportive of the referendum, according to initial results from DuPage County.

Naperville’s current ban on recreational pot sales has effectively blocked the city’s existing medical dispensary, operated by the major Loop-based pot firm GTI, from converting into a dual-use store.

Naperville for Legal Cannabis, a political action committee started in February to “support the sale of recreational adult use cannabis” in the suburb, lists GTI’s chief compliance counsel Dina Rollman as its chairperson and treasurer. The committee’s only reported contributions, totaling $75,000, came from Vision Management Services, which shares the same address as GTI’s headquarters.

Another political action committee started in October, Opt Out Naperville 2020, led a grassroots campaign against allowing recreational cannabis sales. In addition to supportive residents demonstrating at local city council meetings, the group used lawn signs and a roving billboard on a truck to get the word out about Tuesday’s vote.

After Tuesday’s vote, GTI spokeswoman Linda Marsicano claimed victory.

“A majority of the Council has committed to supporting the judgment of the voters, and it’s clear that Naperville residents want safe, legal access to adult-use cannabis at a local dispensary,” Marsicano said in a statement Wednesday. “We look forward to working with the community on implementing a responsible opt-in ordinance in the weeks and months ahead.”

A spokeswoman for Opt Out Naperville 2020 didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Elsewhere in Illinois, voters in O’Fallon and Elmwood backed pro-pot ballot measures, while folks in Oblong, Highland and Marshall voted against recreational sales.