By Bob Uphues
On the heels of Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker signing a bill that will legalize recreational use of marijuana beginning Jan. 1, 2020, officials in Riverside are looking for community input on how to regulate the sale of cannabis within the village — or whether residents want to allow the sale of cannabis in Riverside at all.
The subject will be a discussion item at the next Riverside Village Board meeting on Thursday, July 18 at 7 p.m. in Room 4 of Riverside Township Hall, 27 Riverside Road.
"The [state law] gives municipalities a lot of leeway to regulate it," said Village President Ben Sells. "It's remarkable to me how much leeway is given."
According to Sells, a municipality can pass an ordinance simply prohibiting the sale of cannabis and can also limit dispensaries or stores carrying cannabis-infused products to certain areas.
While at first the sale of recreational cannabis will be limited to existing medical marijuana dispensaries in 2020, that will quickly change. Illinois will issue up to 75 new permits for businesses selling cannabis by mid-2020, and the state expects to allow hundreds of new stores selling cannabis to open in the future.
Products laced with cannabis could include everything from chocolates to coffee. Some businesses could allow for consuming the products onsite. Some so-called "cannabis cafes" could even allow smoking marijuana inside the business.
"We want to see what people think about the concept in general," said Sells. "If we are going to allow it, what kind of restrictions would there be? Where would they be and how would they operate?"
The village's legal counsel will provide an FAQ that should be included in the village board's online meeting packet, which can be found at riverside.il.us. The law firm, said Sells, "will be able to give us good guidance on the details and quirks of the [state law]."
If the village prohibits the sale of recreational cannabis, it still cannot outlaw it for private use. State residents who are 21 and over can still possess up to 30 grams and consume it in their private residences.
This story has been changed to correct information about where and when recreational cannabis will be available for sale in 2020.