LOVES PARK, Ill. (WTVO) — The ‘City with a Heart’ has a change of heart when it comes to recreational marijuana.
In 2019, Loves Park city aldermen voted against recreational pot in city limits. Now they are sharing plans for a new dispensary.
After initially voting to ban the sale of recreational marijuana in city limits, Loves Park is now readying to welcome an adult-use dispensary in 2021.
“It’s a win-win for everybody. We’re going to make sure that there are regulations in place [and] that there are no negative effects in Loves Park. But we’re going to reap all the benefits, and the tax dollars, for our citizens,” said Loves Park 1st Ward Alderman Clint Little.
The city has an agreement with SMG Investments. They are set to build a dispensary near Riverside and Bell School Road. Alderman Little says he is hopeful the location near I-90 will help maximize tax dollars for Loves Park.
“If you can get people to support this from outside the community, those are dollars we would’ve never had,” Ald. Little explained.
Loves Park Mayor Greg Jury says when City Council first voted against the sale of recreational pot in December 2019, some aldermen were concerned with how a dispensary would impact public safety.
“We also realized that the license had already been handed out, so there probably wasn’t going to be any new license handed out for the first six or eight months of 2020,” Mayor Jury said.
But after seeing how dispensaries impacted crime in neighboring communities and how much of a financial boom marijuana sales could be, city leaders changed their tune.
“I asked the police chief to probably around August to start looking into it. And he reviewed what had been happening in Rockford, and basically, from a public safety standpoint, there were none,” Mayor Jury explained. “We thought ‘alright, the police are fine,’ let’s take this opportunity and see if we can get some needed revenue.”
Mayor Jury hopes the dispensary can be open for business by late summer or early fall.