After a council discussion to not ban cannabis establishments in the City of Metropolis, the Metropolis City Council approved Ordinance 2019-15 in a 7-1 vote Monday night to amend Title III, Section 36.70. The ordinance will impose a 3 percent municipal cannabis retailer's occupation tax on retail establishments selling cannabis. This is provided a license is even granted to Massac County and could be several years down the road.

The motion to suspend the rules to pass the ordinance was made by Chad Lewis, Ward 4, and seconded by Don Canada, Ward 2. The motion to approve the ordinance was made by Canada and then seconded by Darryl Neill, Ward 3. Alderman Mike Hall, Ward 1, voted no to both motions. "This goes against everything I've ever believed in. That's why I voted no," said Hall after sharing that marijuana had ruined a family member's life.

The passing of the state bill legalizes recreational marijuana beginning January 2020. For the first half of the year only medical dispensaries currently operating will be able to sell recreational marijuana. Towards the middle of the year, more licenses will be distributed. The minimum cost for a license will be $750,000 and priority will be given to minorities. Even then, Massac County will be up against 17 other counties in what is being referred to as the South Illinois Nonmetropolitan Area to receive one of the first round licenses.

The Carbondale-Marion region contains Jackson and Williamson counties so one of those will receive a license. The Cape Girardeau, Missouri region includes Bolinger and Cape Girardeau counties in Missouri and Alexander County in Illinois. Marijuana is not legal in Missouri, so Alexander County will receive that license.

The passage of the ordinance came after a lengthy discussion on whether or not to capitalize on it. According to Corporate Counsel Rick Abell, regardless of voting to ban these establishments or not, the city would still incur costs associated with the legalization, such as police training, equipment, personnel policy changes, expungement paperwork of those incarcerated currently who had under 30 grams and socioeconomic problems in the future. It would also still be legal for people to consume it.

The occupation tax will be collected by the Illinois Department of Revenue and then remitted to the city. The city will also receive the 1 percent state retailer's occupation tax which is part of the 6.25 percent sales tax added to retail sales of merchandise. Any taxes collected on recreational marijuana will go to the city's general fund and can be used for any municipal purpose, according to Abell.

Also discussed was using zoning authority to regulate the cannabis establishments, which the council agreed it would do. Using this authority, the city can impose minimum distances from sensitive location such as churches and schools, and regulate the amount on premise consumption of cannabis much like the regulations are on alcohol currently. The city cannot prohibit home cultivation or consumption and cannot be more restrictive than the state regulations.

In other business, the council

n Heard from Alice Parkins, a resident on Northview Estates, the need for the city to widen and repave the street.

n Approved payment to Evrard-Strang Construction for the Water Treatment Plant Improvement Project in the amount of $78,811.

n Approved the re-budgeted 2019-20 after school program proposal to $15,333. This is down from $25,000 in previous years.

n Approved the budgeted amount of $3400 to the Youth Football League to be paid as a reimbursement.

n Approved six road closures for upcoming events.

n Adopted Ordinance 2019-14 authorizing the sale or other disposition of personal property from the Metropolis Police Department. Items include a Chevrolet Malibu, a Ford Explorer and several bicycles.

n Was updated that the lawsuit versus Rhonda Riley from 2013 was dismissed without merit because it was a frivolous claim.

n Approved a payment to Massac County in the amount of $150,000 for roof repairs to the Massac County Courthouse pursuant to an Intergovernmental Agreement that was passed in April 2017.

n Approved a motion to advertise for and hire a dispatcher at the police department.

n And, tabled adopting an ordinance to approve a collective bargaining agreement with the firefighter's union because the firefighters have not received the final copy of the agreement from their lawyer.

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