DeKalb approved for medical marijuana dispensary; NIU says 'no' to weed even after Jan. 1

Also: NIU reinforces federal law, prohibits recreational and medical use on campus

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DeKALB – Mitch Zaveduk of Chicago-based BQ Enterprises said he’s looking forward to opening up his medical marijuana dispensary in DeKalb, which won unanimous approval by the DeKalb City Council on Monday, the same day Northern Illinois University announced that any use of the drug will still be prohibited on campus even after Jan. 1.

“We’re just delighted to be coming [to] DeKalb,” Zaveduk said in an interview following the 7-0 vote. “We’ve already started the state application process, and we’re waiting for the state to get back to us.”

In another strong show of support for marijuana business in DeKalb, the council also unanimously approved a 3% tax on recreational marijuana sales. Medicinal sales are also taxed but fall under regular sales tax. Zaveduk said he will now begin the process of applying for a recreational permit for BQ Enterprises’ 3,600-square-foot space at 700 Peace Road, Suite B. The city gave Zaveduk a 12-month period in which to obtain his state license, and an additional six months to complete the build-out.

It’s the second attempt after a 2017 bid for the shop fell short when the state stopped issuing licenses.

Although it will be legal in Illinois on Jan. 1 for adults older than 21 to possess and use marijuana, early licenses will be limited to established medical dispensaries.

NIU prohibits recreational consumption

According to NIU’s website, no person can possess or use recreational marijuana on campus property, including at any NIU-affiliated events that are held off-campus, because federal law supersedes any state law for use and possession.

“College students, already stressed with adult responsibilities and classes, often turn to cannabis for release not realizing the detrimental effects,” the site reads.

A fact sheet on the website shows in 2017, 20% of NIU students reported using marijuana in a 30-day period, and 58% reported having never used it.

The site also alludes to health risks and the dangers of driving under the influence and says marijuana can affect academic success.

To tax or not to tax

The council briefly debated whether to lower taxation of recreational sales below 3%, after DeKalb County government passed an ordinance approving a 0.75% tax, which would mean those who purchase the drug in the city of DeKalb will be taxed 3.75% on sales.

McAdams said that while he wouldn’t be opposed to revisiting the tax in six months, he supported the full tax.

“My personal goal would be to capture as much money as physically possible from the sale of recreational cannabis,” McAdams said.

The soonest any recreational marijuana could be sold in DeKalb County is July 1.
According to city documents, the state of Illinois will limit dispensaries to 500 statewide, with 75 permits for recreational use issued to new sellers beginning May 1. Applications for that period will be accepted Dec. 10 through Jan. 2.

McAdams asked what the increased cost would be for law enforcement after Jan. 1 legalization.

City Manager Bill Nicklas said it’s unclear, but the state law mandates some funding must go to law enforcement for crime prevention programs.

First Ward Alderwoman Carolyn Morris asked if the council would consider lowering the tax after comments made by DeKalb resident Dwayne Brown, who was concerned that a full tax would make the city less competitive for dispensaries.

Second Ward Alderwoman Bill Finucane said DeKalb wouldn’t be doing anything different than other municipalities.

“Almost every municipality that’s approved it has gone up to 3% no matter what their county has set at,” Finucane said. “I think there is no competitive disadvantage for us to do that.”