People give input on possible marijuana sales

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URBANA, Ill. (WCIA) — People made their opinions known on the potential for marijuana sales in the city.

Council asked people to share their thoughts at the meeting Monday night. Recreational marijuana becomes legal for adults on January 1, 2020. Cities are now faced with the choice of whether or not to allow it to be sold.

Less than a dozen people spoke at the meeting. But there was a stark contrast between their opinions. The law allows cities to regulate the sale and location of dispensaries. Mike Lehman says, “These are certainly things that lead to economic development. Towns that have embraced this have done well.”

Meghan McDonald shared how marijuana has helped her overcome alcohol addiction and how more dispensaries could be a benefit. She says, “I’ve tried anti-depressants, SSRI’s, yoga, seasonal effective disorder lamps, therapy dogs, you name it. Nothing has helped me, heal me, save me, like cannabis has.”

The director of an addiction recovery center called Lifeline Connect in Urbana had the opposite opinion after working with people who have struggled with drugs for years. D.L. Rogers says, “My prediction is that more accessibility to marijuana in the streets of Urbana, from any source, are going to contribute to more heroine use and more crime that’s associated with drug abuse.”

Based on the 3% sales tax, the city expects to generate $150,000 to $300,000 revenue per year from this. It’ll help avoid more cuts to the budget and city services.

This wasn’t an agenda item for discussion, so council did not respond to any of the comments directly.

The Illinois Municipal League recommended that cities notify the Department of Revenue sometime in September if they plan to allow the sales.

The mayor says next week she will present an ordinance to council solely on the 3% sales tax. Tentatively, that could go on the agenda for a vote at the next meeting on September 3rd.

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