Metro-East News

O’Fallon aldermen to vote on sale of recreational cannabis within city limits

O’Fallon, IL Mayor discusses city approach to marijuana dispensaries

O'Fallon, IL Mayor Herb Roach onJuly 30, 2019 discusses the city council's thoughts and approach to whether to allow marijuana dispensaries in town. Recreational marijuana becomes legal on Jan. 1, 2020.
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O'Fallon, IL Mayor Herb Roach onJuly 30, 2019 discusses the city council's thoughts and approach to whether to allow marijuana dispensaries in town. Recreational marijuana becomes legal on Jan. 1, 2020.

O’Fallon officials will decide whether to ban the sale of recreational cannabis within the city limits, effective Jan. 1.

The new Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act allows local communities to adopt and enforce ordinances regulating possession and public consumption of cannabis for adults age 21 or older. Illinois is the 11th state to legalize recreational use beginning Jan. 1, 2020.

On Tuesday night, the O’Fallon City Council will consider an ordinance declaring cannabis establishments a public nuisance. The meeting was moved because of the Labor Day Holiday.

The Community Development Committee has advanced a proposed prohibition ordinance, with an amendment, for consideration.

It was drafted based on a model ordinance from the Illinois Municipal League and reviewed by the city’s special land use legal counsel Cunningham, Vogel and Rost. IML has recommended cities opposed enact legislation by Oct. 1 — the first date people can submit applications for dispensaries.

In a 3-2 vote last Monday, the committee recommended an amendment to place a sunset provision on the prohibition six months after an advisory vote would be certified.

That means setting a date for when the specific law will no longer be in effect. O’Fallon may decide differently after an advisory referendum. Hence, the sunset provision.

Alderman Todd Roach, who is vice chair of CDC and proposed the amendment, explained it is a good faith gesture to the public.

“The idea behind the proposal is that this topic is a divisive issue,” he said. “If people vote they don’t want it, then it’s banned permanently. But if they want it, we can look at it in six months. That will force us to revisit it because it is an advisory vote.”

The six months’ time will not only give officials room for more input, but also, if the sale is supported, then the administration has time to prepare ordinances, Roach said.

The same two aldermen opposed to the amendment voted against the proposed amended ordinance — Jay Albrecht and Ray Holden, the CDC chair. Aldermen voting for it included Kevin Hagarty, Nathan Parchman and Todd Roach. Alderman Tom Vorce was absent.

The council can still put an advisory referendum on the ballot for an upcoming election, either March primary or November general election. A resolution must be passed at least 79 days prior to the election.

For the March 17 primary election, the deadline for the council action is Dec. 16. The resolution must include the wording of the question for the ballot.

The state is allowing these legal amounts: 30 grams of raw cannabis; 500 milligrams or less of THC/cannabis-infused products (these are generally considered edibles); 5 grams of cannabis product in concentrated form (this is typically bottles, creams, and the like); and home cultivation of up to five cannabis plants per household is permitted — only for medical cannabis patients.

At a Committee of the Whole meeting July 29, public opinion expressed aligned with the aldermen who favored banning sales in town, with a majority leaning towards an advisory referendum to help them better represent their constituents. Similar sentiments were expressed at a Town Hall meeting in mid-July.

O’Fallon has option to wiggle out of new law

The state allows the city to opt out of the new law because the new act preserves local zoning authority, which can limit the location of cannabis businesses.

Municipalities can enact reasonable zoning regulations not in conflict with the new act, including commercial production or distribution (dispensaries) of adult-use cannabis within their jurisdiction.

Municipalities also may enact zoning ordinances and regulations designating the time, place, manner and number of cannabis business operations, including minimum distances between locations through conditional use permits.

In addition to zoning authority, municipalities can allow for on-premise use of cannabis at locations to be determined locally. The state anticipates local authorities will inspect cannabis-related businesses.

Home-grown cannabis will be allowed only for medical cannabis program participants and is limited to five plants in their residence, subject to specified restrictions.

Municipalities may not restrict the private consumption of cannabis that is authorized but the use of cannabis in public places, schools and child-care facilities among other locations is prohibited.

The drafted city ordinance mentions protecting the public health, safety and welfare of its citizens, and that the city has determined cannabis business establishments would present adverse impacts. It also says the additional costs would burden law enforcement and regulatory operations.

Additional concerns, info on cannabis

The public safety department has gone on record concerned about impaired drivers. If the council votes in favor of the ordinance on first reading Tuesday, it would be up for approval Sept. 16.

Adult-use cannabis business establishment is defined as a cultivation center, craft grower, or processing, infuser, dispensing or transporting organization.

The Illinois Department of Agriculture must license businesses to cultivate, dry, cure and package cannabis, among other activities. The Illinois Department of Finance and Professional Regulation will regulate dispensaries.

O’Fallon will prohibit all cannabis-related business establishments, including on-premise cannabis consumption establishments, declaring them a public nuisance. In the future, if the council decides to permit but regulate the sale of recreational cannabis, the ordinance can be repealed.

On June 25, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker signed the public law creating the Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act.

The state will be accepting and processing licenses through the first half of 2020. Currently, only two medical marijuana dispensaries are in the same district as O’Fallon, and they are located in Collinsville and Sauget. The Illinois Economic Policy Institute has estimated statewide sales of recreation cannabis will be $1.62 billion annually.

To view the report on Public Act 101-0027 The Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act:$file/White%20Paper%20Recreational%20Cannabis.pdf