Rockford City Council discusses marijuana plans

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In just a few months, the sale and use of recreational pot will become legal in Illinois. Before January 1st, local governments have many decisions to make.

Monday, Rockford City Council discussed the next steps to prepare for marijuana in the Stateline. Municipalities across the state are hoping to cash in — including Rockford.

“Additional revenue helps the city do a better job of maintaining roads,” said 12th Ward Alderman John Beck (R). “[Funds that help] provide police and fire services and all the other basic services that we offer.”

Monday, the Finance and Personnel Committee voted to pass a 3% retail tax on marijuana sales. Beck says it could be a great help with future budgets.

“It’s a new source, so we’re not increasing taxes on anybody which is great,” said Beck. “We’re taking a product that was sold illegally and not being taxed at all, now it’s going to be sold legally and that allows us to tax it.”

Aldermen also considered potential cannabis-related business locations.

“These dispensaries will be [at] retail locations where they’ll be selling the marijuana,” said 14th Ward Alderman Joe Chiarelli (R). “The grower aspect of it will most likely be within the 5,000 square foot buildings. That will most likely be within the light industrial area.”

Indoor production by dispensaries was also recommended by the committee but only if isn’t the main focus of the business.

“The growing, cultivating and infusion of cannabis plants indoors will be similar to this type of use as it is similar to a greenhouse or an indoor grow center,” said Zoning & Land Use Administrator Scott Capovilla.

Rockford has two medical dispensaries eligible to apply for a recreational license.

In the incoming first wave on May 1, 2020, the state will permit 75 more locations across Illinois.

“In the first wave, Rockford gets two [more dispensaries],” said Legal Director Nicholas Meyer. “After that in 2021, an additional up to 110 licenses can be issued [throughout Illinois].”

The 3% cannabis sales tax will now go to full council for a vote next Monday.

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