Mayor Tari Renner said he doesn’t expect Bloomington City Council members to opt out of cannabis sales, but they likely won’t allow “cannabis cafes” with on-site consumption.
After months of discussions, the Bloomington City Council is headed for a final vote Dec. 16 on whether to allow cannabis sales in the city. If the city allows sales, it will also have to decide how much to tax those transactions, where those businesses can locate, and other matters.
Speaking on WGLT’s Sound Ideas, Renner said the council is likely to start by considering two paths—allow sales or opt out—then get into the details. He said a few council members may vote to opt out, but not a majority.
“I doubt we’re going to opt out,” Renner said.
The Town of Normal has already decided to allow sales. With legalization starting Jan. 1, the Town Council voted last month to set the rules for where those businesses can locate.
If they don’t opt out of sales, the state’s new legalization law allows municipalities like Bloomington to tack on up to 3% in local sales tax on all cannabis sales. Some, including Bloomington council member Julie Emig, have suggested starting at a lower tax rate than 3% to reduce prices and therefore the likelihood of black-market sales.
Renner said he would support the maximum 3% local tax, as Normal did. He said he’d also support earmarking that money to address addiction, homelessness, or other “social ills” in the city.
“Three percent is not terribly high,” he said. “I don’t think that will create or encourage any sort of continued black market on that.”
Renner said he doesn’t think there’s enough council support in Bloomington to allow so-called cannabis cafes, where cannabis can be used on site. The Bloomington Planning Commission recommended allowing on-site consumption, with some members calling it a social justice issue.
“If it’s legal to consume but you can’t consume it in public or in your home or any other location, then it’s not really legal to a certain population,” planning commissioner Justin Boyd said.
Renner said he doesn’t “know what the disadvantages would be” in allowing on-site use.
“I would support that. I don’t think the majority of the council would support that,” Renner said. “My prediction is we’ll opt in, but not with on-site consumption.”
Normal’s rules do not allow on-site use.
People like you value experienced, knowledgeable and award-winning journalism that covers meaningful stories in Bloomington-Normal. To support more stories and interviews like this one, please consider making a contribution.