DECATUR — The April 6 ballot in Decatur will ask voters whether they support the sale of recreational cannabis in the city.
The city clerk's office on Monday received a petition for the advisory referendum, which will allow voters to offer their opinion on the issue. The decision to have the sales will still be left to the Decatur City Council.
The council in October voted against allowing recreational cannabis sales in the community. Council members at the time raised concerns about the impact on young people and other issues.
Illinois in 2020 became the 11th state to allow recreational marijuana usage. The legislation allows local communities to opt out of sales.
City Clerk Kim Althoff said the referendum was filed by attorney Sam Cahnman on behalf of Lisa Kendall.
Kendall brought a petition with 1,200 signatures to the October council meeting. She was also part of an effort to have the question placed on the ballot in Decatur Township.
"We feel that by filing now we are keeping the topic at the top of people’s minds," Kendall said. "It confirms to the incumbent councilors that the will of the people of greater Decatur is pro cannabis. This could open up all sorts of unforeseen doors. There is also a push in the community to change to an aldermanic system of government here as that’s a more representative form of local governance. These upcoming city council elections could have incredibly far-reaching impacts and having the cannabis referendum on the ballot gives those candidates in support of it an immediate measure of community support for one of the subjects that many of them are campaigning upon."
The election is April 6. There are currently 13 candidates seeking three available seats on the council. As a result, there will be a primary on Feb 23 to reduce that list to six.
The candidates are incumbents David Horn and Chuck Kuhle, and challengers Anthony S. Chapple, Aldophis Cooper, Ed Culp, Elijah England, Marc Girdler, Jacob Jenkins, John Phillips, Hardik Shah, Eric Summerlott, Marty Watkins and William (Will) Wetzel.
Eighty recreational cannabis dispensaries have opened in Illinois in 2020 and 30 more are planned. The industry was on track to have sales of $1 billion for the year.
Taxes from cannabis sales are divided among state and local governments.