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Decatur should be welcoming of, not shying away from, a dispensary. The cannabis industry in Illinois is expected to rake in roughly $1 billion per year, in addition to local tax revenue if we were to have a dispensary.

Yes, we have a drug problem, but we need to focus on the hardcore dangerous drugs. Here's the truth, people are going to smoke marijuana regardless of the legal status. Do we really want to lose even more people and tax dollars to surrounding communities? Do we want to be known as the town stuck in the last century?

If Decatur has any chance of moving forward, we need to embrace marijuana sales. A dispensary would create jobs, increase local tax revenue, and be a draw to our city.

I know what you're thinking, we'd be sending the wrong message about what community we would be, but I disagree. We could put that money back into our community, an example would be the Neighborhood Revitalization Project, not to mention the dozens of failing bridges in Macon County.

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Decatur has made great progress so far, but I think a dispensary would add to that progress. Where would it go? In one of our many empty buildings.

Zoning ordinances could be drawn up at a later date on where the dispensary could exactly go, but we have to look at the big picture. With the legalization of hemp nationwide, it is already having tremendous economic impact, in addition to it being useful in manufacturing products, such as biodegradable plastic. All I am saying is, consider the big picture.

I myself, and the whole community, do not want another Hickory Point Mall situation.

Jacob Hamm, Decatur

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