GALENA, Ill. — Marijuana-selling businesses will be allowed in the unincorporated portions of Jo Daviess County next year, but the county will tax any such enterprise.
Recreational cannabis will be legal in Illinois in 2020, but the state allows municipalities and counties to ban businesses selling the drug if they choose.
County board members this week voted, 13-3, against a ban on such shops in unincorporated areas.
Many of the board members said they felt recreational marijuana will make its way into the county regardless of whether shops are banned, so the county might as well try to reap the potential financial benefits.
“They’re just going to go to (neighboring) Stephenson or Carroll (counties), and we’re going to miss out on the revenue from the taxes,” said Board Member Don Hill. “(If a ban was approved,) we’re just prohibiting the sale, not the usage. They’re going to still use it in Jo Daviess County.”
LaDon Trost was among the county board members in opposition.
“I spent 46 years in law enforcement, and I am offended by anything with cannabis,” said Trost, a former Stockton police chief. “I said in executive session that I would vote ‘no’ to anything that came up with this at a countywide level, and I intend to.”
Trost, Ron Smith and Don Zillig were the three county board members to vote in favor of banning such businesses.
Board members then voted, 15-1, to enact excise taxes on the sale of recreational cannabis. For businesses located in municipalities, the county would levy a 3% tax, which potentially would be on top of what the municipality would levy. The 3% rate is the maximum allowed for counties.
In the unincorporated areas of the county, there would be a 3.75% tax — also the maximum allowed in that situation.
Trost cast the lone dissenting vote.
John Schultz said recreational marijuana will likely create extra costs to the county, though he did not specify what they might be. He urged his fellow board members to implement as high of tax rates as the state allowed.
“I say we go for all we can because we’re going to have extensive problems,” he said.
The first 55 recreational-cannabis business licenses will be issued to already-approved medical marijuana dispensaries. An additional 75 licenses will be given out before May 2020. By January 2021, 110 additional licenses will be awarded. A total of 500 dispenser licenses will be available by January 2022.