Officials mulling cannabis

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As Waterloo and Columbia take steps to decide whether they will allow adult-use recreational marijuana businesses in their towns, other local governments are also in that process. 

Monroe County Commissioner Bob Elmore said some people have suggested the county put the issue on the ballot as an advisory referendum, but he is not for that. 

“I really think our board is going to say we’re against having any dispensaries in the county,” Elmore said. 

He predicted an ordinance for total prohibition would come before the board prior to the end of the year. 

Consumption and possession of cannabis by people over 21 years of age becomes legal in Illinois on Jan. 1.

In Valmeyer, Mayor Howard Heavner said village officials are still in a  “wait-and-see” mode on the matter until more details on the new legislation are finalized.

“There’s too much stuff subject to change,” Heavner said, citing the current veto session in Springfield.

Hecker is not taking that approach, as Mayor Charlie Kujawski said the village plans to present an ordinance for total prohibition  of cannabis at its next village board meeting scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Nov. 12.

Kujawski said the village does not plan to hold a public hearing on the matter.  

According to Maeystown Treasurer Mike Fausz, the issue has not yet come before that village board. 

Maeystown falls under county jurisdiction for zoning, so if the county prohibits cannabis businesses that may mean Maeystown cannot have any either. 

If the municipality must decide, Fausz said the decision would be swift.

“I am sure with the people on our board it would be a quick discussion and denied,” he predicted. 

Outside of Monroe County, Dupo has been discussing and researching the topic of marijuana businesses for the last few months, but no decision has been made. 

The village board has been carrying the item over from meeting to meeting as it continues to understand its options and potential impact. 

Finally, a representative of Millstadt said the village board does not plan to hold a meeting or vote on the issue because it does not anticipate any cannabis businesses coming town. 

According to the village’s zoning code any use “not specifically listed as permitted or special within a particular zoning district,” like recreational marijuana businesses, is prohibited. 

Thus, so far, Waterloo and Columbia are the only towns to have taken concrete action.

Waterloo held a public meeting on recreational cannabis businesses and voted 5-3  last week against allowing them at the committee level. 

The full council will vote on the proposed ordinance for total prohibition at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 4.

Waterloo said it will allow medical marijuana dispensaries. 

Columbia has also hosted a public meeting, but it has not yet voted on the issue. 

It did, however, approve a cannabis retailers’ occupation tax. That is a preliminary measure and not an indicator of the city’s position on cannabis businesses.

“I anticipate the Committee of the Whole will take up the issue at a meeting in November,” Columbia City Administrator Douglas Brimm said. “From there, as a municipality may only regulate cannabis-based commerce through its zoning authority, the Plan Commission will need to review and make any recommendation on amendment(s) to the zoning code.” 

Failure to act would constitute a rejection of cannabis-based commerce in the city, he said.

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