MOLINE — Before recreational marijuana becomes legal next year, city council members will need to decide whether to allow it to be sold in Moline and what restrictions, if any, should be in place.
To help them make that decision, city leaders are requesting information from prospective cannabis retailers.
Illinois became the 11th state to legalize recreational marijuana when Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed the bill into law June 25. The legislation will allow anyone 21 and older to possess up to 30 grams of cannabis or 500 milligrams of THC in products, including edibles.
The new law, which goes into effect Jan. 1, will allow municipalities to impose retail taxes of 3 percent and counties to impose taxes of .75 percent on top of that.
"I believe if it's the law in the state, we need to have a process in place to protect the residents and get the best organization out there that is able to set up shop in the city of Moline," Alderman David Parker, Ward 2, said. "I'm not necessarily against it, I just want to make sure we do it smartly."
Parker said retailers will have to submit the request for information before moving forward with opening a business. He is not sure when council members will have an ordinance drafted and ready to vote on.
"I don't really have a sense for when that will happen," he said. "This is kind of unchartered territory."
Cannabis retailers have until Oct. 4 to submit their responses to the city.
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The city is asking cannabis business owners to provide their business information, intended operations, desired location and building appearance, and any benefits to the community including sponsorship of programs to offset any negative effects from cannabis use.
Potential businesses include craft growers, cultivation centers, dispensing businesses, infusing organizations, on-premise cannabis consumption establishments, processors, and transporting organizations.
The law allows the state's 55 existing medical dispensaries first dibs at retail licenses, with the first five already having been approved. Green Thumb Industries is the recipient of all five licenses. With headquarters in Chicago, Green Thumb Industries has a large cultivation center in Rock Island that has plans for expansion.
The first licensed retail establishment in the Quad-City area will be the only current medical dispensary, Nature's Treatment in Milan.
The law also allows villages and cities the power to ban cannabis retailers from setting up shop.
O'Fallon city council members voted earlier this week to prohibit the sale of recreational marijuana. Naperville, Libertyville, and Bloomingdale banned pot sales in July.
Rock Island County board members also are preparing for the new law to go into effect.
During Tuesday's regular meeting, board members approved an ordinance establishing a county cannabis retailers' occupation tax. This allows the county to collect .75 percent tax on cannabis retailers in the county and a 3 percent tax on cannabis businesses located in unincorporated areas of the county where there is no municipal tax being collected.