A pitch from a company to South Jacksonville officials has sparked a discussion about cannabis sales in the future.
Michael Emling of the Vermilion County-based Daiven Kayne Enterprises spoke this week to the village’s committee of the whole about bringing a cannabis processing field and a dispensary to South Jacksonville.
Emling is looking to put a possible distribution center in west-central Illinois as a part of the state’s legalization of recreational marijuana use on Jan. 1.
Emling discussed how taxing cannabis could help the villages services such as the police and EMS, business possibilities that his company can bring, and potential seminars educating residents on the positives and negatives of cannabis use.
“We treat this cannabis opportunity just like you would treat a firearm, tobacco or alcohol,” Emling said.
South Jacksonville Police Chief Tim Mann told Emling the committee is going through a codification process and is still working out ordinances that would pertain to marijuana use and sales. Emling volunteered to suggest some ordinances to the village’s code enforcement officer and provide research he has given to other municipalities.
“We really do want the communities to start from the ground-up with us — be involved with how we are going to run our facilities,” Emling said.
After Emling’s presentation, the village committee had a general discussion about bringing cannabis to South Jacksonville to see if there was interest in bringing cannabis sales to the village.
Village President Harry Jennings argued that the moral decision to legalize recreational cannabis had already been made and the village will deal with the issues of legalized cannabis no matter what, so the village should consider having the opportunity to reap revenue from taxes on sales.
“The use is going to be legal come Jan. 1 … like it or hate it, there is nothing we can do to change that,” Jennings said. “If somebody can’t buy it here, they’re going to drive to Jacksonville or Chapin or wherever that license is going to be.”
Village trustees Greg Nelson and Todd Warrick agreed with Jennings’ assessment while Jason Hill, Tom Jordan and Dick Samples wanted to do more research.
“Ever since it came up as a realistic idea, I thought tax it and tax the heck out of it,” Nelson said. “I’ve worked for a public entity funded by tax money. I‘m not turning down money.”
Trustee Paula Belobrajdic-Stewart was firmly opposed to adding a dispensary. She said the village should consider whether it could cause more work for the village’s police and fire departments.
“It’s what we want South Jacksonville to be known for and to look like,” Belobrajdic-Stewart said. “And for me — I know it’s revenue — but I have a big difficulty with that.”