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Illinois Sheriff's Association: Decatur should opt out of cannabis sales

Illinois Sheriff's Association: Decatur should opt out of cannabis sales

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DECATUR — The Illinois Sheriff's Association is mounting an outreach effort to encourage Decatur city officials to opt out of cannabis sales.

The group launched a website, optoutdecatur.com. The site includes various reports and data provided by the organization.

The move comes as Decatur officials consider whether to allow the sale and, if so, how much to tax it.

Illinois in June became the 11th state to legalize the sale and possession of small amounts of cannabis for recreational use. The new law will allow Illinois residents to have up to 30 grams of cannabis flower and up to 5 grams of cannabis concentrate.​

Local governments may decide whether to allow sale within their limits or set restrictions on the products, and there is a wide gap in what direction officials have taken. Communities like Murphysboro and Marion have opted out. Williamson County voted earlier this month to support the dispensary Harbory's bid for a license to sell recreational cannabis, and set a 3.75% retailer's occupation tax on pot sales. Collinsville, meanwhile, has applied a 3% tax on cannabis sales, which could generate up to $1.3 million a year to the city. Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot has proposed that marijuana dispensaries could be throughout the city, but not in downtown.​

The Decatur City Council is scheduled to discuss the issue at a special meeting at 5:30 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 30, in the theater of the Decatur Civic Center, 1 Gary K. Anderson Plaza.

State officials have authorized 26 businesses to provide health and safety training to operators who dispense cannabis in Illinois.

The sheriff's group has been a vocal opponent of the proposal approved by lawmakers.

In June, Sangamon County Sheriff Jack Campbell, speaking on behalf of the Illinois Sheriffs' Association, told a House committee that members of the association oppose the legislation.

Campbell said there is no chemical field-sobriety test admissible in court in Illinois to prove marijuana-related impairment for drivers.

"There are too many unanswered questions," he said. "Don't let Illinois be a test tube for the Midwest."

Supporters of the bill argued that legalization of cannabis sales and adult possession and use of small amounts of marijuana would create a safer product and reduce black-market sales.

Opponents predicted rises in crimes of violence, educational failure, mental illnesses, addiction and increased numbers of people disqualified from jobs through drug tests.

— The State Journal-Register​ and The Southern contributed to this report.

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