Emerald Coast is back seeking approval for a cannabis dispensary at the former Bakers Square Restaurant location on Jefferson Street.
The Joliet City Council is slated to vote Tuesday on a special use permit for the site at 2211 W. Jefferson St.
The project came to the council for approval in August, when it did not get enough support to be even put up to a vote.
Council members at a workshop meeting Monday offered mixed opinions on whether they would vote for what would be the third cannabis dispensary in Joliet if approved.
“When this came to us before it was the location that was the problem,” council member Jan Quillman said, adding that she got calls from “a lot of residents.”
Council member Suzanna Ibarra had the opposite opinion.
“I think that’s an excellent location,” Ibarra said. “I’m within walking distance of that location.”
Ibarra said cannabis dispensaries bring “more police presence,” which would be good for the neighborhood.
“When this came to us before it was the location that was the problem.” council member Jan Quillman said— Council member Jan Quillman
The staunchest opposition came from council member Larry Hug, who called Illinois cannabis policy “a pay to play system” dominated by big-money operators.
“It does not serve the young entrepreneur or any entrepreneur,” Hug said.
Matthew Hagglund Jr. then stepped up and told the council that he is a “social equity partner” with Justice Cannabis Co. and the majority owner of Emerald Coast.
“This is going to be my dispensary,” said Hagglund, describing himself as 28 and a veteran. “I don’t own anything but Emerald Coast LLC.”
Emerald Coast is an affiliate of Justice Cannabis, which plans to have 10 dispensaries in Illinois and has 15 dispensaries in five other states. The company typically does business as Bloc Dispensary.
Hug responded that Hagglund’s comments were the first the council had heard of him, and previous presentations showed the Joliet project as a Justice Cannabis operation.
City staff is recommending approval of the permit for Emerald Coast, and a staff report lists tax benefits from the future dispensary. Emerald Coast expects to do between $12 and $20 million in sales at the site, and the city would collect 3% of that, according to the report.