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Cannabis in the county? Not so fast say some County Board members

PRINCETON — Cannabis users probably won’t be getting their (legal) supply anywhere in unincorporated Bureau County any time soon after a contentious discussion by County Board whether to allow it.

The board on Tuesday discussed whether to amend the zoning ordinance to allow cannabis related operations: dispensaries, growing or processing operations, within unincorporated areas of the county. Currently, there is no zoning addressing cannabis related business. Counties must either opt-in and adjust zoning accordingly, or do nothing which excludes them from bringing in those operations.

Mary Jane Marini (D-Spring Valley) reported to the board that in committee discussions the vote was initially divided on whether to opt in or out, but collectively they decided to reconsider after speaking with the board at large because the decision is not a permanent one.

She pointed out that legal cannabis will bring in 1.5 billion in sales for the state by the year’s end, and the county should heavily consider capturing some of that revenue.

Municipalities make the decision independently, meaning the board oversight is only for unincorporated areas of the county. Marini said the county would get a portion of any sales tax from within the county, but it would be a smaller amount than they would receive allowing business to come to unincorporated areas under its direct purview.

Leading the charge against the measure however, Connie Stetson (R-Neponset), vehemently said she doesn’t want it here.

Stetson made a motion to opt out permanently, effectively blocking any cannabis related business from setting up shop in the county.

“I want to opt out. I don’t want it here, I don’t want it in my backyard,” she said.

States Attorney Geno Caffarini said there is no need to opt out. By not opting in and changing zoning, it’s simply a moot point. Businesses can essentially look, but not touch, but if the board opts in, it needs to due to the limited number of licenses available in the state.

After a second by Dan Rabe (R-Princeton), the board voted not to opt out of potentially allowing zoning for cannabis businesses.

Eight members including Keith Cain (R-Princeton, Marsha Lilley (R-Princeton), Rabe, Robin Rediger (R-Buda), Stetson, Kristi Warren (R-Princeton), Derek Whited (R-Princeton) and Marshann Entwhistle (R-Princeton) voted to opt-out of rezoning.

Source: The Daily Chronicle

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