Should recreational pot sales be allowed in Batavia? Voters to decide this fall

  • Batavia officials will let voters decide whether recreational marijuana sales should be allowed in city limits.

    Batavia officials will let voters decide whether recreational marijuana sales should be allowed in city limits. Associated Press

 
 
Updated 4/7/2020 5:54 PM

Voters will decide this fall whether recreational marijuana businesses could have a future in Batavia.

The city council on Monday unanimously approved placing an advisory referendum question on the Nov. 3 ballot asking if adult-use cannabis sales should be allowed in town.

 

The outcome will dictate the next actions taken by city officials, City Administrator Laura Newman said. If voters support such operations, she said, the plan commission and city council will still need to consider where and how many dispensaries should be allowed, among other potential restrictions.

Under the state's Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act, which took effect Jan. 1, municipalities can't outlaw recreational marijuana use or possession in their towns. But they can choose to implement regulations for various retail operations, or ban sales altogether.

The topic has spurred mixed reactions from Batavia officials since discussions began last year. After receiving widespread feedback from residents on both sides of the issue, aldermen felt it would be best to put the decision in the hands of voters, Newman said.

Research from the city attorney determined a referendum question related to adult-use cannabis would have to be advisory, rather than binding as the city council had originally hoped, she added.

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"They were kind of disappointed about that because they are fully willing to accept whatever the will of the community is," Newman said.

Mayor Jeff Schielke initially said he would oppose any effort to bring a recreational pot business to Batavia. But he later backed the city council's decision to bring the issue to the voters, saying it will now be up to "the will of the people."

Adopting the resolution Monday was the city's first step in the process. The referendum question now has to be certified by Kane County before it can be put on the ballot in the general election, which city officials hope will have a high voter turnout, Newman said.

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