MAHOMET — The village will join other area small towns in October in discussing issues related to marijuana.
Adult-use recreational marijuana becomes legal on Jan. 1 in Illinois, and the state law means that local towns can’t prevent residents from using recreational marijuana in their homes. But villages can determine some limits related to the issue.
Mahomet village President Sean Widener said he wants to hear community input on the topic.
“We didn’t want to jump in right away, so we chose October,” he said of the village board of trustees setting a time to talk about legal marijuana. “Obviously it’s going to be legal in the state, so our options and what limited options we have as a community ... we could opt out of allowing it to be sold in the community. That is going to be discussed.”
There is no current specific impetus to act on the issue in Mahomet, he noted.
“We’re in no rush for anything. My personal viewpoint: I’m really, at this point, indifferent. I don’t feel strongly one way or the other,” Widener said. “I want to hear the conversation. I’m not advocating one way or the other.”
The village president said he has taken informal surveys in different social circles, including among other area mayors, to get a feel for where general public opinion might land.
“I have a good sense of how they’re leaning,” Widener said. “I would fully expect if we would allow it (in Mahomet), we would have somebody petition it. We’re no different than any community that they’ll probably go to.”
The issue comes from a state level, he noted.
“It’s a tough one. It’s a tough one in the sense that it was not brought upon (by) ourselves,” Widener said. “We didn’t want it, but here it is. We have to deal with it.
“I think we’ll treat it no differently than any other issue that we’ve had in the village,” he added. “We’re going to take our time and look at it.”
In order to allow sales of marijuana in the village, and determine an amount of sales tax to charge up to 3 percent, the deadline was September, Widener noted.
“We’ve already missed that,” he said. “So in 2020, we’re not going to get anything no matter what. We’re not really aggressive on it.
“The board may not decide anything. We’ve taken that path in the past,” Widener added. “We’re not being pressured by any forces. If anything, I think we’ve got to learn more about it too. It’s something new to us, and I think we’re going to hear different perspectives.”
He did say that, from a law enforcement perspective, legalized marijuana will directly impact the village.
“With or without it in Mahomet, we still have to deal with it from a police standpoint,” Widener said. “It’s going to be here no matter what, so we’re going to have to deal with it with policies, we’re going to have to deal with it with other stuff. It’s going to be legal in the state of Illinois, so we have to cover our bases there.”