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Photo by Wendy Davis

The Iroquois County Board Policy and Procedure Committee discusses having all board members determine the fate of whether cannabis can be grown, manufactured, and/or sold in Iroquois County’s unincorporated areas.

The Iroquois County Board will take on the controversial issue of marijuana in the county.

The state law will change Jan. 1 to allow adults to possess up to 30 grams of marijuana. It is leaving it to the counties to decide for themselves how strict they want to make the rules regarding the growing, manufacturing and sales of it.

At the September meeting the board okayed establishing a cannabis retailers’ occupation tax in the county: 3.75 percent of gross receipts from sales in unincorporated areas of the county and 0.75 percent of gross receipts of sales made in a municipality with a cannabis ordinance.

“The law is the way it is,” said states attorney Jim Devine regarding the legality of the drug at Tuesday morning’s county board policy and procedure committee meeting. He confirmed that these rules apply to just the plants which contain THC, not industrial hemp.

He also noted that the state is still developing its own rules. He said the county can be more stringent on the substance in the county but it can’t be less. He said the county can’t be more strict in personal possession.

He advised that the county should have something in place before the rule change, or set ups could be grandfathered in.

County board chairman John Shure brought up what Kankakee County has done.

Initially, it has banned the production and sale of it; but it will be put for another vote with more board members present, he said.

He said it’s easier to say no and then change it to yes, than the other way around.

With allowing it, there will need to be zoning ordinances created and dispensaries would need to have licenses like liquor licenses, which the county would need to create.

Committeeman Lyle Behrends said the rules the county board creates would only be for rural areas and unincorporated towns. The towns’ boards can set up their own rules.

Plus, he said, “Even if we say yes to growing it, they still need a state license.”

Devine reminded the board there are those who have a medical card which allows them to be able to grow up to five plants.

Because this is a controversial matter, Shure said it would be best if every board member, not just the one committee’s members, would weigh in their thoughts at the full board meeting.

The committee did approve a policy for county employees for a drug free work place. The policy with consequences will come in the future.

Public health administrator Dee Schippert told the committee what she had learned about having a policy in place.

She said, “Every place in Illinois has the right to have a drug free environment.”

She said someone who has used can’t be discriminated against at hiring. Though, once hired and the person knows of the rules and has signed the policy, they can get in trouble.

The main reason for putting the policy in place, she said, is that the federal government still has a no tolerance on marijuana. Therefore, grants that come from the federal government do have restrictions on its use.

In Eric Ceci’s EMA report, he said the emergency operations plan has been submitted, and he’s continuing to work on the county’s hazard mitigation plan. The LEPC is still working on a plan for the recent commodity flow study.

Myron Munon was on hand to talk about getting the county trained according to Illinois Senate Bill 75 rules regarding sexual harassment training.

He said the rules are to take in affect Jan. 1, but there’s no set training put out by the state yet.

He said Bliss McKnight has training, and often the trainings it sets up more than meets the expectations the state puts in effect.

After the first of the year, he said, the plan is to get county board members and department heads trained, and then they’ll set up additional training days for employees to better work with office staff scheduling and duties.