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East Peoria public forum presents different views on legal weed

When marijuana becomes legal in Illinois on January 1, 2020 cities like East Peoria will have the option regulate the sale or prohibit it. Other municipalities like El Paso, Morton, and most recently Monmouth have taken measures to prohibit the sale in their village or city. East Peoria Mayor John Kahl says what others do won’t affect their decision. He explained, “It’s not going to be an easy decision but we cannot allow what other municipalities do or don’t do weigh in on what we do.”

Kahl went on to say, “We want to get a clear understanding before we act upon anything.” The city can regulate or ban the possession, use in public, use at marijuana businesses, and what types of businesses are allowed. There are six different types of marijuana businesses they will consider. Dispensaries where marijuana is sold is the first and most popular. East Peoria city attorney said with the new law, 75 dispensary licenses will be available before May 1, 2020 in the entire state. The second is a cultivation center where cannabis is grown. Processing and infusing are businesses that make products. Craft growing is another option much like craft brewing. And the last is transporting or shipping marijuana or products.

Mayor Kahl said this isn’t their first rodeo with legal weed. “East Peoria allowed medical marijuana to be sold here. We have one dispensary..A lot of people had concerns it was going to create problems and it just hasn’t,” explained Kahl.

East Peoria Commissioner Michael Sutherland shared his thoughts on bringing the sale of marijuana to East Peoria. “Cannabis has never killed anybody..But I have never known anybody that died of drug overdose that didn’t start with cannabis,” he said. Many others in attendance agreed. One commenter said, “You just got to have plain common sense. It’s a gateway drug. Totally against it.”

Others said why not use this opportunity to make money. “Long gone are the days of people watching ‘reefer madness’ and being scared of this. I think it’s a lot safer than alcohol, and we’ve got plenty of that in the area,” said one East Peoria resident. Others were filled with emotion addressing the council. “I’ve hid from you for forty years. I’m tired of hiding,” said another.

The council did not make any decisions. Further discussion is expected.

Kyle Beachy

Kyle Beachy is a Multimedia Journalist for 25 News and Heart of Illinois. Born and raised in Kokomo, Indiana, he attended Indiana Wesleyan University where he studied Education and played baseball. He comes to us from Columbus, Ohio where he received a Master’s Degree from The Ohio State University.

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