Bloomington's new cannabis task force meets for the first time on Thursday night to help guide the city on policy in advance of recreational marijuana sales becoming legal next year.
Council member Jenn Carrillo proposed creation of the panel. She said the 10-member group will likely begin with a narrow focus with a deadline fast approaching. The council wants a report by its October 21 meeting.
Carrillo said the main issues will be whether the city should welcome cannabis sales, where it would allow them to open and how the city should tax it so the city council can take action later this month.
Carrillo has openly advocated for Bloomington to become a marijuana-friendly community but she's only one voice among 10 on the board.
“It seems to me like the narrative around the task force already having their minds made up I don’t think can be further from the truth," she said. "I just want to invite people to come to the meeting and see the work that we are doing for themselves."
Carrillo said while she has made her wishes clear, she welcomes those on the task force who might not want marijuana sales in the city.
“I personally don’t subscribe to the idea that you have to be neutral to participate in a task force like this, because why would anyone want to participate in a task force around an issue that they feel neutral about?” Carrillo asked.
The meeting begins at 7 p.m. at the Miller Park Pavilion. Council members Carrillo and Julie Emig will preside over the first meeting when the panel will name a chairperson and vice chair.
The city council gave the task force 90 days to complete it work. Carrillo said once the task force addresses its key issues, she’s also like to see how the city can benefit from legalized marijuana to repair past harms.
“This is a very strong reason why I’m supportive of us being welcoming to this new industry as an opportunity to repair past harm that has been done to communities of color, low-income communities and communities that have been criminalized by the war on drugs,” Carrillo said.
The state of Illinois announced on Monday much of west Bloomington and neighborhoods around Illinois State University would be given an advantage in seeking a marijuana license based on a past history of “being torn apart due to failed drug policies,” according to the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity.
"Almost my entire ward is in that map, so it’s something I personally feel very strongly about,” Carrillo said of Ward 6. “Where that will land with the task force, I don’t know yet.”
Illinois plans to issue 75 licenses by May. Those looking to open a dispensary will be able to apply starting in December.
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