ONE OF the provisions in Illinois’ new law that legalizes recreational marijuana use permits cities, villages and counties to “opt out” of allowing pot dispensaries within their jurisdictions. That’s a major issue the Decatur City Council will be dealing with in the near future — whether or not to “opt out” in allowing a recreational marijuana dispensary in the city limits of Decatur.
RECENTLY, the Village of For-syth Board turned thumbs down on allowing it to happen within its jurisdiction. It has to be obvious to even the most politically-blind that greed was the foundation of passing the legislation — our state government is in constant need of more money to feed its ravenous appetite for spending that puts taxpayers in a deeper hole every time the General Assembly meets. It apparently doesn’t make any difference whether passage of legislation is good for the health of the state — as long as it generates lots of money.
INTERESTINGLY, what our state government is finding out is that the projected money flow from legalizing marijuana, may have already hit an unexpected snag even though the law doesn’t go into effect until Jan. 1, 2020. Many communities are opting out of allowing pot dispensaries in their communities! John Pletz wrote recently in Crain’s Chicago Business that “the race to roll out recreational marijuana in Illinois is encountering an unexpected obstacle: resistance from municipalities that want no part of the pot party. “Naperville City Council members recently voted 5-4 to reject recreational-use sales in the western suburb. Naperville joins Libertyville and Bloomingdale in pursuing opt-out rights under a little-noticed provision of legislation allowing recreational marijuana sales across the state starting Jan. 1. “More municipal bans could slow the growth of recreational sales and the tax revenue state officials expect from marijuana.”
NOW, it is getting closer to Decatur’s turn to make a decision on whether to “opt-out” and it will be the mayor and six members of the city council who will make that decision for us. There is a lot of research on this issue that needs to be done including what’s happened in some of the other states who have legalized recreational marijuana. What additional burden is going to be placed on law enforcement?
THE DANGLING promises of those pushing a pot dispensary(s) in our community, should result in a red flag because we should have learned by now, those promises are worthless. Outcomes rarely happen that reward confidence in government projections. Promises to help poor neighborhoods, etc., and so much more, need to be seen in the light of day — not through the hazy smoke of a “weed” patch of pie-in-the-sky financial projections. Isn’t it interesting that, funds are being budgeted to deal with the negative effects of the passage of the legislation. What does that tell you about regard for a community’s health? There’s already a financial commitment to deal with the downside of the legislation. There will be a lot of arm-turning of the mayor and city council members before the decision is made on whether or not to allow legal marijuana sales in Decatur.
MOST of the Democratic members of the Illinois General Assembly and Governor J. B. Pritzker have tried to convince us the legalization of recreational marijuana is a great move ahead for the stability of our state. Don’t be fooled again! I know the mayor and members of the Decatur City Council. Most are long-time friends and, frankly, I would be shocked and very disappointed with a vote to allow marijuana to be legally sold at a Decatur location.
Decatur, like other communities across the state, has the opportunity to say a firm “Not in our city!” As someone who has spent his life working long and hard, along with many others, to make Decatur a special place to live and work, I would really hate to see it go to pot!