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Local News

Rockdale board to consider marijuana businesses after voters say OK

Last week, a majority of voters in Rockdale said they would like the village to allow recreational marijuana businesses.

About 55% of the 316 voters said yes to the ballot question as of March 17. The vote was for a nonbinding, advisory referendum, meaning the vote basically serves as a poll question for the Village Board to consider when they make a decision on the matter.

"[We thought] let's ask our residents what their thoughts and feelings are on this issue," Rockdale Mayor Sam Wyke said.

The state Legislature allowed municipalities to "opt out" of allowing recreational marijuana businesses such as dispensaries and cultivation centers. Communities in Will County, including Bolingbrook, Homer Glen, Lockport, Minooka, Mokena, New Lenox, Plainfield and Wilmington, opted out of allowing marijuana businesses last year.

Wyke said opinions in the village were mixed, which was another reason the board wanted to put it to a vote. He said the village had even heard from some individuals who were interested in opening up a marijuana business in the village.

The mayor said he had mixed feelings about allowing marijuana businesses. On one hand, he feels the village could benefit from potential tax revenue if it had a marijuana business, but on the other hand, he worries that such a business could bring problems.

Wyke said he would like to see the amount of revenue places like Joliet take in from sales. Joliet has two dispensaries which started selling recreational marijuana this year.

"We want to wait to see how things go first," Wyke said.

Rockdale Village Trustee Robert Scheidt agreed tax revenue could be a benefit. He said he hasn't seen any problems with medical marijuana dispensaries, which are regulated by the state and are now selling recreational pot, too.

While he didn't want to say how he would vote on an "opt out" ordinance, he said he thought about half of the board members would be OK with allowing marijuana businesses in town.

"It really depends on the majority of the board," Scheidt said.

Trustee Matt Cooling said he is not in favor of allowing marijuana businesses in town based in part on feedback from residents uncomfortable with the idea. Plus, he said, he's unsure of exactly how much tax revenue would be generated after hearing about initially high revenue projections for Joliet being downgraded.

Wyke estimated the board could make a decision in the next two months.

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