It didn’t take long for the Naperville city council to set the table for cashing-in on tax revenue from the anticipated sale of recreational marijuana within city limits. The last vote was barely being tabulated from the non-binding referendum regarding the sale of the previously illegal substance when city council members were celebrating the new revenue stream with high-fives, and I mean ‘high’.
City officials said the 3% tax must be approved by April 1st (April Fool’s Day) in order for the city to start counting the tax dollars on sales between July 1 and December 31, otherwise city officials would have to wait one more day until January 1. Keep in mind that the council wanted to approve the tax before voting to approve the sales of recreational marijuana. In other words, even though the city council originally decided by a vote of 6 to 3 to not approve the ordinance, now they have the votes to approve.
Somehow magically, at least two of the dissenting council members will switch their votes from ‘no’ to ‘yes’ to approve selling the ‘funny stuff’. They will say it was the ‘will of the people’, when most likely they wanted to approve selling it, but they didn’t want to catch grief from residents opposing it. Only mayor Steve Chirico, and council members Judy Brodhead and Theresa Sullivan originally favored the sale, while the other six said ‘no’. Now at least two more if not all will vote in favor of approving the ordinance.
Regarding the ‘will of the people’, the vote definitely was not a landslide as some defined it. In fact, it was a mere 1,884 more votes favoring the ordinance out of a city with a population of 147,000. A total of 28,968 votes were cast with 15,426 voting ‘yes’ and 13,542 voting ‘no’. The DuPage county portion of Naperville voted ‘yes’, while the Will County portion of Naperville voted ‘no’.
Interestingly, the ‘Opt-out’ group opposing the sale of recreational marijuana was truly a grass roots effort of people with smaller donations, while supporting the sale ‘Naperville for Legal Cannabis’ was a political action committee which started only last month. Naperville’s only medical dispensary is operated by GTI, and GTI’s chief compliance counsel is listed as the chairperson for the PAC. The committee’s reported contribution of $75,000 came from Vision Management Services which by stroke of coincidence shows its address as the same address for GTI’s main office.
All perfectly legal, and all proving again that it’s very difficult to win against big money.