Adult-Use Cannabis Businesses

On May 11, 2021, the Lake County Board approved an ordinance that permits adult-use cannabis businesses in unincorporated Lake County subject to certain zoning restrictions.

Adult-Use Cannabis Ordinance

View the adult-use cannabis ordinance

Per the ordinance, different types of adult-use cannabis facilities are allowed to operate within the general commercial and industrial zoning districts including dispensaries and various support businesses consisting of transporters, cultivation and processing uses. In particular, infusers, processers, craft growers and transportation facilities are allowed by right within the industrial zones, while all other adult-use cannabis businesses require a public hearing and the Lake County Zoning Board of Appeal's approval of a conditional use permit to operate. No adult-use cannabis businesses are permitted to operate in residential zoning districts.

Zoning regulations on operational standards have been structured into sections and address the following:

  • Buffering from “Sensitive Uses”
  • Setbacks from the facility structure to property lines
  • Parking requirements
  • Signage and Exterior Display Restrictions
  • Security
  • Hours of operation and floor area limitations
  • Prohibition on drive-throughs and onsite consumption

Zoning Amendments Process


• Public Works, Planning & Transportation Committee (PWPT)
• Recommended Initiation of Formal Process

JANUARY-FEBRUARY• Lake County Board Meeting: February 9, 2021
• Directed Zoning Board of Appeals to hold public hearings to consider adopting zoning regulations
APRILLake County Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) held public hearings:
• Monday, April 19, 5:30 pm: Watch Recording
• Wednesday, April 21, 1 pm: Watch Recording

Lake County Board approved the adult-use cannabis ordinance
• May 11: Watch Recording

Additional Resources

Consumption of adult-use cannabis is legal throughout the state of Illinois, and as of May 11, 2021, cannabis related businesses are currently allowed in unincorporated Lake County.

More information on the types of businesses, as well as the state law and municipalities' regulatory status can be accessed by clicking on the icons above.

*The Interactive Regulatory Mapping Tool was developed by Lake County staff as part of the 2019 Lake County Recreational Cannabis Task Force to allow users to evaluate various options in regulating cannabis facility locations based on proximity to various land use types. Please be aware that although steps were taken to verify the accuracy of the data contained in the tool, it is a composite of data, from many sources, that are subject to change without notice. Access to and use of the website, content and other information are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. The mapping tool is not a regulatory document, is for informational purposes only, and should not be relied on in making any investment decisions. Any results should be independently verified before any final actions are taken.


Can the adult possession/consumption of cannabis be banned by a local government like Lake County? 
No, local governments cannot ban or override the regulations allowing adult possession/consumption adopted under the Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act (see the paragraphs below on “Possession” and “Use” for more details).

What role does local government have in regulating adult-use cannabis businesses?
Under the law, jurisdictions in Illinois can ban adult-use cannabis businesses within their boundaries or, alternatively, establish regulations to allow businesses engaged in the production, transport and sale of cannabis. This includes Lake County government, which enforces zoning regulations for unincorporated Lake County. Municipalities can establish such business regulations within its boundaries.

View a map of the status of adult-use cannabis regulations in Lake County. At this point, Lake County has not made the decision yet on whether to regulate or ban adult-use cannabis businesses in the unincorporated areas.

Recreational Cannabis Map

How much cannabis may an Illinois resident legally possess under the new law?
For an Illinois resident who is 21 years of age or older, the possession limit is any combination of the following:

  • 30 grams of raw cannabis;
  • Cannabis-infused product or products containing a total of no more than 500 mg of Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC); and or
  •  Five grams of cannabis product in concentrated form.

*Non-Illinois residents may legally possess 1/2 of these amounts and cannot possess cannabis plants. 

For individuals who register as qualifying patients under the state’s existing medical cannabis program only:

•    Up to five cannabis plants and the cannabis produced from those five plants, secured within the residence or dwelling unit (no matter how many people reside in a residence, only five plants are allowed per residence).

Where will consumption be allowed?
The consumption of cannabis will be allowed on private property or potentially, specifically designated establishments such as dispensaries or smoking lounges (if approved by the local government).

Where is a person prohibited from possessing cannabis?
The law does not permit any person to engage in, and does not prevent the imposition of any civil, criminal or other penalties for engaging in, any of the following conduct:

  • Possessing cannabis on a school bus.
  • Possessing cannabis on the grounds of any preschool, primary or secondary school unless approved as a medical cannabis patient.
  • Possessing cannabis in a vehicle not open to the public unless the cannabis is in a reasonably secured, sealed, tamper-evident container and reasonably inaccessible while the vehicle is moving.
  • Possessing cannabis in a private residence that is used at any time to provide licensed childcare or other similar social service care on the premises.

Where is the use of cannabis prohibited?
The law does not permit any person to engage in, and does not prevent the imposition of any civil, criminal or other penalties for engaging in the consumption of cannabis in the following locations: 

  • On a school bus.
  • On the grounds of any preschool, primary or secondary school unless authorized in the medical cannabis program.
  • In any correctional facility.
  • In any motor vehicle.
  • In a private residence that is used at any time to provide licensed childcare or other similar social service care on the premises.
  • In any public place or knowingly in close physical proximity to anyone under 21 years of age.
  • In any public place where a person could reasonably be expected to be observed by others. 
  • In any location where smoking is prohibited by the Smoke Free Illinois Act (410 ILCS 82/1 et seq.), including hospitals, restaurants, retail stores, offices, commercial establishments, etc.
  • Universities, colleges and other post-secondary educational institutions may restrict or prohibit cannabis use on their property.

What regulatory abilities, if any, do business owners and landlords have?
Any person, business, public entity, or landlord may prohibit the use and cultivation of cannabis on private property.

Can I bring cannabis purchased in Illinois to another state?
No. Transportation of cannabis or cannabis products across state lines is prohibited. This applies to both Illinois and out of state residents. 

Can I drive while under the influence of cannabis?
No, driving under the influence of cannabis will continue to be illegal.

How does adult-use cannabis affect criminal records?
Illinois Governor JB Pritzker will grant pardons authorizing expungement for convictions for up to 30 grams, with the attorney general going to court to delete public records of a conviction or arrest for the now legal amount. Regarding possession of 30-500 grams, an individual or a state’s attorney may petition the court to vacate or expunge the conviction. Local law enforcement and the Illinois State Police will also automatically expunge arrests not leading to a conviction for possession and manufacture or possession with intent to deliver for up to 30 grams.

How is cannabis taxed? 
Sales will be taxed at 10 percent for cannabis with THC levels at or less than 35 percent; 25 percent for cannabis with THC levels above 35 percent; and 20 percent for cannabis-infused products such as edibles. This is in addition to standard state and local sales taxes. Additionally, Lake County adopted an ordinance that allows the County to collect a cannabis retailer's occupation tax on any permitted adult-use cannabis dispensaries within the incorporated and unincorporated areas upon the State’s start-date authorizing such tax collection (July 1, 2020). At this time, since the County Board has not adopted zoning regulations allowing unincorporated dispensaries, such tax would not be applied in the unincorporated areas.