McDonough Co. group raises concerns over adult-use cannabis

MACOMB, Ill. (NEWS3) — With the rollout of adult-use cannabis taking effect on Jan. 1, one local organization would like to see some changes made following decisions set by local government officials.

Democratic Women of McDonough County President Heather McMeekan is a medical cannabis patient. She went before the Macomb City Council on Oct. 14 to express her group’s support for a dispensary to set up shop. The group launched a petition asking the council to allow recreational cannabis sales in Macomb. The petition had more than 200 signatures before the council unanimously approved the ordinances on Monday.

McMeekan said she would like the council to reconsider and reduce the three percent sales tax it passed in September.

“These taxes can put out of reach our elderly patients and those who are on public assistance,” McMeekan said to officials. “I’m very worried about people choosing to still use it off the streets or buy it elsewhere rather than purchasing it safe from a dispensary.”

Macomb City Attorney Kristen Petrie said the recreational retail tax has no impact on medical cannabis purchases if a user has a medical cannabis card. Officials did not say whether they will look into changing the three percent tax.

“Unfortunately, we have a lot of medical patients who cannot get a physician in McDonough County to sign their cards,” McMeekan said. “A lot of them have been waiting for access to medical cannabis through recreational because they can’t afford the several hundred dollars to travel elsewhere to get a physician to sign for that.”

McMeekan also said limiting the dispensary hours of business on Sundays places a burden on residents who work multiple shifts or later in the day or weekends.

Macomb’s ordinance restricts a dispensary from being open no earlier than noon on Sundays.

McMeekan said several local medical cannabis patients are hoping to use recreational cannabis medicinally.

Macomb Mayor Mike Inman said about a handful of people have expressed an interest in starting up a cannabis shop in town.

Current medical dispensaries are able to become recreational marijuana stores. Only three adult-use cannabis licenses will be issued by the state to set up shop in the west-central Illinois region before May 1, 2020.

Medical dispensaries in west-central Illinois are currently located in Canton and Quincy.

The Democratic Women of McDonough County hosted an informational and network event with Illinois Women in Cannabis last week. Medical cannabis products were on display from cultivation center Nature’s Grace and Wellness located in Vermont, Ill.

A handful of people showed up to the Macomb Committee of the Whole meeting on Oct. 14 in support of MeMeekan’s requests.

NEWS3 reached out to representatives with the McDonough County Republican party for comment but have not heard back.