Municipalities Face Opt-In Votes on Retailing Cannabis

By Benjamin Cox on June 11, 2019 at 2:03pm

Municipalities around Illinois have a decision ahead when it comes to recreational marijuana. Illinois municipalities have the decision on whether they want to “opt in” to having a dispensary within their city limits.

Based off Amendment 64 in the State of Colorado that was signed into law in 2012, Illinois new cannabis legislation allows a “local option” for retail prohibition within a city’s limits. While the provisions of recreational use are not prohibited in a city that has “opted out” of sales within their limits, it means that the municipalities won’t allow a store to sell recreational and in some cases medical cannabis.

Ward 3 Alderman Brandon Adams says that the City of Jacksonville is still in fact-finding mode with the Special Studies Committee. “Industrial hemp passed last year. HB1438 just passed the legislature and is needing to be signed by the governor. The implementer of the laws will be through the Department of Agriculture. I’m currently trying to get the head of the division to come to speak to the council what is in the 610-page bill. I haven’t looked at it all. I’m sure most people haven’t either over the last few weeks. It would be nice if he could come speak to us and answer some of the questions that we have and give a general overview of the bills. It would be an opportunity for the council to hear what they need to look forward to in the future.”

Adams believes that if the rest of the council wants to keep it out of Jacksonville it won’t happen. “The general opinion is that the City of Jacksonville can opt out if they want to. South Jacksonville is just a mile away. If the city wants to give that business away that’s upcoming, that is there decision and not mine. I’m the proponent trying to bring this to the city. From a business perspective, it’s not going to keep cannabis out of Jacksonville. People will just go to South Jacksonville or elsewhere to get it.”

Adams believes the revenue stream would be a boon to the city: “I said it in the special study. It’s not if the council approves the opt-in, it’s going to be when the council approves the measure. The state is already moving on it. The governor has already said he’s going to sign the measure. Cannabis is going to happen here. It’s just what are we going to do about it. Are we going to let other businesses move elsewhere or are we going to provide for and do everything we can to bring those new businesses and jobs to Jacksonville? It is going to raise revenue. Are we going to let that revenue to go to South Jacksonville or other cities?”

Adams think the next step is to pursue tourism with the new cannabis legislation. He believes that border states like Wisconsin, Indiana, and Missouri will come to the state for recreational usage. Adams says the next step are cannabis lounges and bars in the state. He believes that Colorado and other states that have legalized cannabis are going to use the bar or lounge-style setting for adults to consume recreational cannabis at a specific site.

The city council is likely to vote on the “opt in” measure within the next six months once the bill is signed into law by Governor J.B. Pritzker. Recreational marijuana would become legal in the state on January 1, 2020.