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Bloomington City Council will vote next week on whether to start zoning process to regulate cannabis sales
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Bloomington City Council will vote next week on whether to start zoning process to regulate cannabis sales

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BLOOMINGTON —  After hearing a report by a task force that recommended  6-3 in favor of allowing the sale of cannabis in Bloomington, the City Council decided Monday night it isn't ready to vote on whether to opt out entirely.

Because the meeting was a work session, the council took no formal vote on the issue.

But in a straw poll Monday night, the council expressed unanimously that they want the city staff to prepare a resolution that, if passed next week, would begin the zoning process to regulate the sale of cannabis in Bloomington. That would include the city's planning commission having a public hearing.

"We're really at a point in time that I want to make sure people can provide the feedback they want to give," said Ward 7 Alderman Scott Black, adding the commission's public hearing could provide that opportunity.

But the council did not support Black's suggestion that the council also vote next week "up or down" on whether to allow the sale of cannabis in the city.

Local governments do not have any authority to limit or prohibit anyone age 21 or older from using cannabis, beginning Jan. 1, but they can decide whether to opt out of allowing the sale of cannabis in their jurisdictions.

If the Bloomington council votes in favor of beginning the zoning process, City Manager Tim Gleason said the matter would be brought forward at a planning commission meeting in November.

"Depending on what (the commission's) recommendation is, it would come back before council in December to accept and approve or not," said Gleason.

Possible zoning recommendations could include designating where cannabis businesses would be permitted and whether to allow on-site consumption at businesses selling cannabis.

As Bloomington's council was hearing its task force's findings, the Normal City Council, which did not use such a panel, voted Monday night  to send a draft ordinance to the town's planning commission for a public hearing at 5 p.m. on Nov. 7. 

For cannabis sales, the new law also allows municipalities to add a sales tax of up to 3 percent. In Bloomington and Normal, that would be on top of the 8.75 percent local sales tax.

Cities also could receive an additional 2.5 percent from the state's tax, bringing the total tax revenue from cannabis sales for municipalities of up to 5.5 percent, Gleason said.

In addition to dispensaries, the new law also requires licenses for cultivation centers, craft growers, businesses producing products concentrated or infused with cannabis, and those transporting cannabis on behalf of an established cannabis business.

"This is a short period of time for this to go into effect," said Gleason. "So regardless of what the council is discussing tonight, we've got to be as prepared as we possibly can be for the public safety challenges and decisions that come before us. And also there is public employee component that we've got to be ready for, all of the different HR (human resources) considerations, union considerations."

Questions also remain about whether changes could be made during the state Legislature's November veto session to the 600-paged legislation signed into law in June, Gleason said.\


Pantagraph photos 

Contact Maria Nagle at (309) 820-3244. Follow her on Twitter: @Pg_Nagle

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