RANTOUL — The village board will have until November to decide if it wants to allow cannabis dispensaries to operate in town.
The board last week heard from one person in favor of allowing the dispensaries and received written information on the issue from Village Administrator Scott Eisenhauer.
Most of the residents who spoke on the issue last month said they didn’t want a dispensary to be located in town.
Last week, resident Carolyn Thrash said she believes allowing the sale of recreational cannabis can “help in many ways.”
In citing the potential benefits, Thrash cited a 2008 study by colorado.gov that said alcohol sales in that state brought $45 million a year in tax money to the state while recreational cannabis brought in $270 million, with portions going to each town where dispensaries were located.
Thrash said the study found the dispensaries can benefit real estate values. She said homes located near a dispensary saw their value climb by about $6,000 a year. At the end of the five-year study, each home was worth about $23,000 more than before.
Some residents who spoke against allowing recreational cannabis said domestic violence would rise. That has not been the case in states where recreational cannabis use is allowed, Thrash said. It has remained about the same.
Some decried the effect recreational cannabis would have on teenagers.
“In states that have it, teen use either went down or stayed the same,” Thrash said. “If you think about it, they didn’t have it to rebel with.”
Thrash said studies show cannabis can help those addicted to opioids to get off the drugs and said it helps ease the pain of people suffering from cancer and other ailments.
“I’ve seen it first hand,” Thrash said. “Until you see the severity of how it can help someone, you have no idea. It’s an amazing thing.”
Eisenhauer provided the board a sample of an opt-out ordinance if trustees decide they wish to go that route.
Eisenhauer said the village has received a number of emails on the issue — both for and against.
He said additional conversations can take place at the village level this month so he can get an indication which direction the board wants to proceed.
“In November we would bring to you in the study session ordinances either for or against their use or prohibition in the community,” Eisenhauer said, adding the public is encouraged to continue to make its feelings known.
Eisenhauer said the first dispensaries to be allowed by the state (57 of them) will be for medical licenses.
“There are a number of regulations a license holder would have to go through,” he said. “There are a very limited number of licenses that would be released in the second round, and only one would be released to our region, which would include Champaign-Urbana.”