We’re just months away from recreational marijuana becoming legal in Illinois. Recreational marijuana becomes legal in Illinois on January 1st.
The only cannabis retailer set to open in the tri-state will be in Harrisburg, but Wabash County is also opting for it.
Legalizing marijuana in Illinois has triggered some backlash and it’s is causing some city leaders to step forward, creating new laws before it becomes legal.
“I think it’s going to cause issues,” says community member, Rebecca Reeves. “I mean how many people from out of state is going to come in here?”
Mount Carmel adopted a sales tax on recreational marijuana sales, and that money goes back into the community. Although some government officials say they are already feeling the pressure to allow cannabis to be locally sold.
“Since the state has made a mandate that all municipalities opt-in or out and Wabash county has opted in, and has put a lot of pressure in Mount Carmel to opt-in also for the tax benefits,” says Mount Carmel Mayor Joe Judge.
Mayor Judge says for opting-in they get 1.75% of the total recreational marijuana sales tax taken in from the state even if there is no cannabis retailer in the area. Their police department gets also gets 8% of those taxes. The mayor says the money given to the police department will go towards the training law enforcement needs to regulate the drug.
“We have 15 people in our police department plus our dispatch that have to be trained on the new laws that surround the recreational cannabis and for a small town like Mount Carmel sending people to Peoria, to Belleville and other places to be trained is very expensive,” says Mayor Judge.
Some community members say even with these tax benefits, opting in to let marijuana retailers open shops is concerning.
“It is a gateway drug and we already have issues with meth,” says Reeves.
At Monday’s city council meeting, Mount Carmel adopted two ordinances which were both already put in place by Wabash County.
One of those ordinances established a 3.75% tax rate on recreational marijuana sales in all corporated areas of Mount Carmel. This means areas in city limits and up to two miles out will be hit with this tax rate. However, whether or not cannabis retailers will be making their way to Mount Carmel is still unknown.
“It’s to be remained to be seen. It really depends on once the licenses between now and 2024, there’s 500 licenses that are going to be made available by the state of Illinois,” says Mayor Judge.
People in Wabash County can start applying for their cannabis retailers’ licenses in May. There are only 12 licenses available to potentially be used in the county. The applications will have to be approved by area leaders.