Mayors weigh in on recreational marijuana legalization

Local News

ST. JOSEPH Ill. (WCIA) — There are mixed opinions from mayors in central Illinois on how they plan to handle the legalization of recreational marijuana in their cities. 

There are some who are looking forward to the extra revenue from taxes. Some are on the fence about the idea. Others are completely against it and plan to create their own laws to ban it in their cities. 

The use of recreational marijuana is about to be signed into law. But the mayor of St. Joe, Tami Fruhling-Voges says, “I do have concerns. I don’t know if that’s something we want to welcome in our community.” 

She wants to ban it from the village altogether. While that’s not possible, the village can create laws to restrict the sale of marijuana. Fruhling-Voges says, “If we can’t ban it entirely from the community, we will have to look at updating our zoning ordinances.”

Other cities are supportive of the bill. Urbana’s mayor has been anticipating the legalization of it for a long time. Diane Marlin says, “I think it was inevitable. We were moving in this direction for a while.” 

People 21 and older would be able to buy it at dispensaries. Those who live in Illinois can have up to 30 grams.

Marlin says there is a lot of planning to do to prepare for the legalization and “Our law enforcement will be looking carefully at what we need to do for public safety. Probably the main concern from that standpoint would be driving under the influence.” 

She is looking forward to the sales tax that could come from it. Marlin says, “We will be doing that. There’s a maximum of 3% for the local governments. We will need to pass an ordinance establishing that tax. But we don’t have an estimate of the revenue it could generate yet.” Whatever money cities do make from that tax will go into the general fund. 

For Fruhling-Voghes, money doesn’t matter. She says, “What we’ve always promoted in our community is a good, clean, safe, community to live in. To me, that just doesn’t fit that image.” 

WCIA also spoke with Decatur’s Mayor, Julie Wolfe. While she didn’t give her opinion on the bill, she did say the city will hold a study session to talk about and get public input. No date has been set for that yet. 

The law takes effect on January 1, 2020.  

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