Dispelling misconceptions regarding a cannabis dispensary in Decatur
MISCONCEPTION #1 – CANNABIS DISPENSARIES WILL PROLIFERATE THROUGHOUT THE CITY – While the city has over 100 businesses in which individuals can buy or consume alcohol and 85 establishments with video gambling, the Decatur metropolitan area is eligible for only one dispensary as of May 1, 2020. The dispensary could be in Decatur or it could be in a nearby town that has already opted-in such as Harristown.
If there is going to be a dispensary in Macon County, it should be in the city of Decatur. Sales tax revenue from an adult-use cannabis dispensary (and increased property tax revenue from other cannabis-related businesses such as cultivation centers and processors) should remain in Decatur for it is Decatur citizens that are likely to make up a significant proportion of the cannabis buyers in our area.
MISCONCEPTION #2 – A CANNABIS DISPENSARY IN DECATUR WILL LEAD TO AN INCREASE IN THE NUMBER OF YOUTH USING THE DRUG – The report “Impacts of Marijuana Legalization in Colorado” published by the Colorado Division of Criminal Justice published in October 2018 presents results of the Healthy Kids Colorado Survey. The survey reports on cannabis use among high school and middle school students between 2013 (the year before recreational cannabis dispensaries were in Colorado) and 2017. There was no significant change in 30-day use among youth between 2013 (19.7%) and 2017 (19.4%). In addition, Colorado 30-day use among youth in 2017 was lower than the national average of 19.8%.
MISCONCEPTION #3 – A CANNABIS DISPENSARY WILL LEAD TO A LARGE INCREASE IN THE NUMBER OF INDIVIDUALS DRIVING UNDER THE INFLUENCE – Data from the report “Impacts of Marijuana Legalization in Colorado” published by the Colorado Department of Public Safety in October 2018 compares the number of citations issued for DUI by the Colorado State Patrol in 2014 (the first year of recreational cannabis stores) compared to 2017. Quoted below is one of the findings:
“The total number of DUI citations issued by the Colorado State Patrol (CSP) decreased from 5,705 in 2014 to 4,849 in 2017. The prevalence of marijuana or marijuana-in-combination identified by Patrol officers as the impairing substance increased from 12% of all DUIs in 2014 to 15% in 2017.” In 2019 in Decatur, there were 361 DUI arrests. Assuming after 3 years there is an equivalent decrease as Colorado experienced, the number of DUI arrests would decrease 15% to 307.
While having a dispensary in Decatur, as opposed to purchasing cannabis in a nearby municipality, may not increase the number of individuals that are driving under the influence, Decatur has a problem with people driving while intoxicated. We have seen two individuals under 21 involved in serious accidents resulting in fatality in recent months. I am optimistic that the new DUI Enforcement Officer, combined with our entire police force, will serve as a deterrent and reduce the number of individuals driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs in our city.
VOTE YES FOR A CANNABIS DISPENSARY IN DECATUR – I have had the honor to serve as a member of the Decatur City Council for nearly three years. Since that time, two themes have been communicated frequently: 1) don’t raise taxes and 2) don’t cut public services. An adult-use cannabis dispensary in Decatur gives the city the opportunity to generate new revenue through sales of a legal product, create jobs, and improve the quality of life for medical and adult-use cannabis users.
For more information about the election including how to vote early, please visit the Macon County Clerk’s Office website (https://www.co.macon.il.us/voting-election-information/) or call 217-424-1333.