Southern Ill. government members figuring out weed regulations

Updated: Jul. 18, 2019 at 4:49 PM CDT
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MARION, Ill. (KFVS) - Among the people scratching their heads over the new Recreational Cannabis Act are members of southern Illinois government.

Over in Marion, Chief of Staff Cody Moake said they are trying to get a leg up on figuring out how they’ll be implementing them.

The law goes into effect on January 1, 2020. Moake said the city government in Marion is trying to figure out their local regulations with it by October. So, he said there is much work to be done.

“The biggest thing we’re trying to understand is what is allowed of municipalities in the process,” he said. "We’ve got some different zoning regulations and some business regulations that we’re going to have to take and that’s going to take more research.”

Moake said they have to figure out everything from where people in Marion will be allowed to consume cannabis, where they’ll give people licenses to sell it and how much to tax it.

According to resources from the Illinois Municipal League in regard to the Cannabis Act provided by City Hall, the state law restricts the use of marijuana products pretty much anywhere where children are regularly present, like schools, child care facilities and other public places.

The resources go further on to state that local zoning authority can be as strict or as relaxed as they see fit when deciding where dispensaries can be. Moake said folks at Marion City Hall are still figuring out how to handle that.

A summary of the Act provided by Governor Pritzker’s office lays out that there will be different tax rates depending on the cannabis product purchased.

On the customer, there is a 10 percent tax for cannabis with a THC level at or below 35 percent; a 20 percent tax on all cannabis infused products; and 25 percent for cannabis with a THC level at or above 35 percent.

There is also some extra taxing power in the act for local governments as well. Moake said local governments can pass an ordinance of up to 3 percent of purchase price in .25 percent increments.

“That’s up to 3 percent, we don’t have to levy that high but starting out that’s what we could do,” Moake said. "Our normal tax rate on sales in the city is 8.75 percent, so it’s not taxed at the level as other goods in town.”

He clarified that regular retail sales tax would not impact the taxes on marijuana.

There’s also some confusion with how the recreational marijuana laws will impact the city’s ability to get federal grants.

Right now, Moake said the city has a zero tolerance policy with alcohol in the workplace and is very confident the same would go for when the pot laws go into effect.

“Some federal dollars that are available to governments come tied to a zero tolerance policy because, as you know, marijuana is not legal on the federal level,” he said.

With that kind of situation, figuring out how it will work gets tricky because often times, Moake said they hire private contractors with that federal money to get jobs done.

“At this point it’s unclear, but it’s going to be a really hard row to hoe because we drug test our employees, but we don’t drug test contractors’ employees,” he said.

Where the city stands now, Moake said they’ve got a lot of work to do and not a whole lot of time to do it.

While they are figuring out the implementation of these laws, they are asking any residents with questions, concerns or comments, to voice them at city hall.

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