Village of Indian Head Park makes decisions regarding cannabis


Julie Bryar-Smith addresses the village board (Williams/LION).

Claire Williams and Sophia Schultz

In early October, Brandt Siegfried ‘18 returned home from Hillsdale College, Mich., for his fall break. Siegfried, a new resident of Indian Head Park and former student council president of LT, took time out of his break on Thursday, Oct. 10, to attend a village board meeting. He was one of the dozens of residents that voiced their opinions before the board regarding their vote on whether or not to allow the retail sale of recreational cannabis.

“Indian Head Park is a brand, and that’s what attracts new residents to the family-friendly community,” Siegfried said in his speech to the board. “Genuine people, strong school districts, and inviting residents all contribute to the brand. We know this [brand] is valuable to others because it shows in our strong values. Our values are worth more to us than the tax value the village might make.”

The majority of residents that addressed the board agreed with Siegfried: the retail sale of recreational cannabis, made legal by the state for adult use 21 and older starting Jan. 1, 2020, would not benefit the community. It seemed the majority of the trustees believed this, as well. At the end of the meeting, they voted 4-2 against the retail sale of recreational cannabis.

Preceding this vote, the board also voted on two other issues regarding the sale of cannabis. The first issue presented a 3% tax on recreational cannabis in the instance that they would allow its sale.

“[If we were] to sell, I think it’s a no-brainer to collect the tax,” Mayor Tom Hinshaw said.

The second issue proposed the legalization of the sale of medical cannabis with a tax at 1%. On both issues, Hinshaw’s vote tipped the scales in favor to break the 3-3 tie of the trustees with a final outcome of 4-3 in favor of the proposals.

In the four and a half years that Hinshaw has been mayor of Indian Head Park, these are the first issues in which he has broken a tie.

History teacher Julie Bryar-Smith, who spoke at the meeting as an Indian Head Park resident and a member of the Coalition for a Drug-Free Lyons Township, was not pleased with the outcome of the first two votes.

“I support the use of medical marijuana for approved disorders, but I don’t support the way that it’s run now,” Bryar-Smith said. “The goal of these industries is to make as much money as possible. If you look at pictures from medical marijuana dispensaries, it’s like a candy store. When somebody is trying to put in a medical dispensary [in the village], I hope [the board] will do what’s best for the community.”

Bryar-Smith has been attending village board meetings in an effort to play an active part in reaching out to the local municipalities. She wants to be a part of their decision making process by providing them with accurate information, she said.

“I see it as a social issue as well,” Bryar-Smith said. “Some people argue to let people choose. If they want to drink, if they want to smoke, let them do that. But the externalities that are present because of marijuana use are huge costs to our societies and people don’t look at those costs.”

Hinshaw voiced that he would have voted in favor of the sale of recreational marijuana if the trustees’ votes had tied.

“I believe one of the benefits of having sales is that people today are consuming cannabis if they want, and they are buying those for the most part on the black market,” Hinshaw said. “If it was legal and sold in the village, our residents would have a place that they would go to get regulated cannabis so it would be controlled by the state.”

On Thursday Nov. 14, the Indian Head Park Village Board voted down the ordinance for the prohibition of recreational cannabis sales 4-3 with the mayor breaking the tie, reversing their Oct. 10 decision. The board will go back to the recreational cannabis sales discussion at the December meeting, Hinshaw said.

“Most [of us] on the board believe we should follow our attorneys advice and either have an ordinance in favor of recreational cannabis sales or an ordinance against recreational cannabis sales,” Hinshaw said. “As of now we have neither.”