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A second cannabis dispensary wants to open in Macon County. It should be located in Decatur

Residents of Decatur have waited over 4 years since adult-use cannabis was legalized in Illinois for a cannabis dispensary in the city.  Nearby Harristown has one and there is a possibility that a second dispensary will be constructed in unincorporated Macon County at the edge of Decatur.  Given the likelihood that the largest share of customers to a dispensary are Decatur residents, the cannabis dispensary should be in the city rather than outside it. 

It is unclear what the arguments are for requiring our citizens to drive out of town to Harristown or unincorporated Macon County to purchase a legal product whether for recreational or medical use.  The city is simply losing tax revenue to nearby municipalities and inconveniencing its citizens.  Furthermore, whatever the negative consequences to these legal sales may be, they will be in Decatur where the cannabis is used as opposed to the location where the cannabis is sold.  As one example, I am concerned about the adverse effects of elevated THC levels in some cannabis products.  However, whether the product is sold in Harristown, rural Macon County, or Decatur, the product will have the same negative impact to the Decatur resident. 

The city council should reverse its decision prohibiting dispensaries and other cannabis-related businesses soon.  Since adult-use cannabis has been legalized over four years ago, the Decatur City Council has taken only one formal vote on whether to allow dispensaries, and only one council member (yours truly) has ever formally voted yes for a dispensary in the city.  Meanwhile, residents of our city have long supported having a dispensary.  On March 17, 2020, residents of Decatur Township (which comprises ~70% of Decatur residents) voted in an advisory referendum on whether the city should allow the sale of cannabis and cannabis-infused products to individuals over 21.  There were 5,382 ballots cast with 62% voting yes and 38% voting no.

According to the April 2024 Treasurer’s Report for Decatur, revenue is down 9% ($2.128 million) and expenses are up 2% ($575,000) compared to projections.  Rather than proposing new taxes on residents such as a streaming tax or a storage unit tax, why not get tax revenue from individuals that voluntarily choose to purchase medical or adult-use cannabis? 

The city originally estimated the annual revenue from sales of cannabis products at $206,000 - $360,000.  While this new revenue cannot offset our shortfalls entirely, it can be used to help fund the city's priorities such as neighborhood revitalization and/or assist in providing public services such as police and fire protection.  A cannabis dispensary and other cannabis-related businesses will bring a new and needed source of revenue and jobs to the city. 

Horn for Decatur
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