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Elgin mayor leads push to ban unregulated THC products in city

Elgin’s gas stations, convenience stores and smoke shops would have to remove all products containing THC — the chemical that causes the “high” feeling in cannabis and hemp — from their shelves under a pending crackdown on the products.

City council members voted unanimously this week to move toward a ban that could come within the next two weeks.

The move comes as part of a push in the Northwest suburbs fueled by the licensed cannabis retail industry, which wants to close a loophole for more than 100 products that contain THC but at levels below what state and federal laws consider a cannabis product.

The ban would make it so only dispensaries regulated by the state could sell the products. Dispensaries pay a higher tax on the sale of cannabis products than is covered by the rival THC products, which often are advertised as containing Delta-8 or Delta-9 THC.

Elgin Mayor David Kaptain is leading the push behind the ban in his city. He said the lack of regulation on the Delta-8 and Delta-9 products leads to unpredictable levels of THC. Even worse, he said, is there is no age restriction, meaning children can buy the products as easily as a can of soda or a package of gum.

“This stuff is killing kids,” Kaptain said. “They are finding it in gas stations. They put this in what looks like candy. And they are doing this for the specific purpose of selling this to kids. This is a public safety issue.”



According to the latest information from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, there has never been a death attributed to any amount of THC consumption.

Council members debated the idea of putting age restrictions on the sale of the products rather than a full ban. Council member Tish Powell said she is hesitant to create a monopoly on cannabis products for dispensaries.

“I kind of look at this as cigarettes,” Powell said. “You have to be 18. There’s all kinds of warning labels. It’s a conscious choice at that point what you are doing. I’m very hesitant to start taking that choice away from adults looking to purchase this type of material.”

However, Kaptain and city attorney Bill Cogley said the lack of regulation means harmful additives, including fentanyl, can appear in the products and cause people to die.



“When marijuana got legalized, you opened Pandora’s box, and now you’ve got to tamp the box down a bit,” Kaptain said.” “There’s no quality control.”

Every council member supported keeping THC products away from children, and that thought ultimately fueled an 8-0 preliminary vote in favor of the ban. The council will take a final vote in two weeks.

If that final vote goes the same way, there will be a grace period for Elgin businesses to learn about the ban and remove the products from shelves. After that period, any non-dispensary selling the products would face a fine of at least $1,000 and the possible loss of business privileges in the city.

“If you are selling this at a gas station that sells alcohol, and you have a liquor license, we are going to come looking for you,” Kaptain said.


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