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Sycamore City Council wants public opinion before deciding on recreational marijuana sales

SYCAMORE – The Sycamore City Council is going to wait to hear public input before it makes any decisions, but several council members seemed favorable to the idea of allowing recreational marijuana sales in the city.

At Monday’s meeting, members compared sales of recreational marijuana to previous decisions the council has made on video gambling or alcohol sales in the city. First Ward Alderman Alan Bauer said that he had voted against many of those measures in town.

“What I’ve seen over those votes is we’ve properly regulated those things,” Bauer said. “Even though I was pretty pessimistic, it turned out OK. I guess I’m OK with this.”

In June, Gov. JB Pritzker signed a bill legalizing recreational marijuana, making Illinois the 11th state in the Union to do so. Starting Jan. 1, 2020, it will be legal in Illinois for residents to have up to 1 ounce of marijuana for personal use for Illinois residents 21 years and older.

DeKalb City Council also has shown support for allowing marijuana dispensaries in town and is already fielding calls from interested merchants.

Sycamore City Manager Brian Gregory told the City Council Monday that there were several taxes that would benefit the city.

The law would allow Sycamore a 3% sales tax on recreational marijuana sold in the city. Money raised with that tax could be used as the city desires. But a portion of the state revenue raised by sales across the state would be distributed to municipalities in the state for crime prevention programs.

Gregory said that, looking at several estimates, a dispensary could do between $1 million and 10 million in sales, meaning that it would be possible for Sycamore to bring in between $57,000 and $575,000 in revenue.

“It’s quite a spread,” he said, noting that it would be a safe assumption that the higher totals would come from more populated areas. Of the 75 licenses Illinois will allow beginning Jan. 1, 47 of them are set aside for the Chicago-Naperville-Elgin region, Gregory said, of which Sycamore is a part.

First Ward Alderman Josh Huseman asked if the city was locked into a decision forever, if it had made a decision or if it could change after a period of time and see how other towns handle the situation and address it again a year from now.

Second Ward Alderman Chuck Stowe said his biggest concern was how law enforcement would respond to the legalization, which was not something the City Council could control.

“Us having a place that offers it for sale is not going to make any difference,” he said. “If we don’t have any retailers here, the police department is still going to have the same problems. … Might as well collect the revenue and regulate correctly.”

Gregory had told the council that City Council had the power to prohibit sales but not use.

Sycamore already has approved medical marijuana dispensaries in the city, although none had come into town.

Third Ward Alderwoman Nancy Copple said she wanted to wait and see what the public thought.

The item was up for information and discussion only Monday, and no action was taken by City Council. Council discussed and planned to have a public hearing on the issue before its next meeting Oct. 7.

Source: The Daily Chronicle

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