MT. VERNON (WSIL) — Mt. Vernon officials are preparing for new marijuana businesses.
The city council approved an ordinance Monday night allowing marijuana sales in town with a vote of 4-1. Mayor John Lewis said the city previously didn’t allow marijuana but once the Illinois law changes in January, there’s no point in continuing the city prohibiting.
"The only thing opting out does is you don’t get the tax revenue. That is it," Lewis said. "It changes nothing else to opt out: They can still have it, possess it, smoke it in the city."
Cannabis is still illegal under federal law, but enforcement hasn’t been consistent throughout the years.
Illinois will legalize recreational use in January and marijuana businesses are already getting ready to set up shop.
Lewis said he won’t have to do much to attract any dispensaries to Mt. Vernon.
"By the interest that’s been shown, I don’t think we’ll have to take an active role, we’re just going to have to sort through all of those that are coming to us and see what their business plan is and what they bring to the community, what they bring to the table," Lewis said.
But since there’s likely going to be a shortage of marijuana once sales start, Lewis said he may try to lure growing centers to the city.
"They’re good-paying jobs and there’s many of them," Lewis said.
Mt. Vernon also granted a new liquor license to the AMC theater.
The theater requested a license so it could have a setup similar to the AMC in Carbondale.
Lewis said he has faced some criticism for the plan but there haven’t been any problems in the other cities.
"I don’t think we as a city should tell a business how they should invest their money or what their business plan should look like," Lewis said. "That should be you, the citizen, voting with your pocketbook."
The age of entry rule will be removed for all restaurants with a liquor license.
The changes will also allow those shops to sell alcohol earlier in the day on Sundays– eliminating a rule that kept them from serving alcohol before noon.
Lewis said several businesses reached out, experiencing problems with the previous rules.