Joliet City Council to discuss recreational marijuana taxes, zoning laws

The Joliet City Council may soon decide on whether to impose a tax on recreational marijuana retailers.

Members of the council discussed the issue at a pre-council meeting Monday night. Interim City Manager Steve Jones suggested that the council begin the process with voting on authorizing a tax.

“What it does is it tells the business community, tells everybody who is involved in the regulation, that we are open to the sale of recreational marijuana,” Jones said during the meeting.

When the state passed a law ealier this year that will legalize the recreational sale and use of marijuana, it allowed for municipalities to impose a tax of up to 3% on the gross receipts from sales. Recreational marijuana will be legal up to certain amounts starting Jan. 1.

Jones added that if the council approves the tax, the city could proceed with approving certain land-use matters to determine where it would be appropriate to have recreational sellers in the city.

The operator of a medical marijuana dispensary in Joliet, Green Thumbs Industries, was at Monday’s meeting to ask for the right to sell recreational marijuana.

Dina Rollman, a representative from GTI, said the company has already been granted a license from the state to sell the product for recreational purposes.

Jones said with the 3% tax on recreational marijuana and the city’s sales tax, the estimated revenue for the city could be about $1 million annually.

Both Rollman and Joliet Police Chief Al Roechner said there had been no issues with GTI’s business in Joliet, the 3C Compassionate Care Center, since it opened four years ago.

City Council member Larry Hug said that he had concerns about how the recreational marijuana industry was being taxed and regulated by the state government.

Hug said that because of how the licenses were being granted by the state, with certain preferences for medical dispensaries already up and running, he saw little opportunity for local entrepreneurs looking to enter the industry.

Hug added that he preferred to take an up-or-down vote on whether or to opt out of allowing recreational marijuana sales in the city, because he wanted residents to be able to see who supported allowing it.

A few other Will County municipalities have already opted out of allowing recreational sales.

He likened the current procedure to organizing his wedding before asking his wife to marry him.

“If my wife had said no and I had gone through the whole process of getting the wedding set up, I would look pretty foolish and wasted a lot of money, a lot of effort, a lot of time,” Hug said.

Alex Ortiz

Alex Ortiz is a reporter for The Herald-News in Joliet. Originally from Romeoville, Ill., he joined The Herald-News in 2017 and mostly covers Will County government, politics, education and more. He earned his bachelor's degree at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a master's degree from Northwestern University.