With recreational cannabis sales set to become legal in Illinois in 2020, St. Clair County officials are setting tax rates and eyeing where the new revenue might go.
The board voted to set tax rates on recreational sales at a special meeting of the county board Monday night with all attending board members voting in favor of the ordinance.
Under the new ordinance, sales can be taxed up to 3.75% in 0.25% increments for sales in unincorporated areas of St. Clair County and up to 3% in 0.25% increments in county municipalities.
That’s in addition to sales taxes already in place and whatever amount the municipality where the sale takes place taxes on recreational marijuana.
County Chairman Mark Kern said the revenue raised by taxation on cannabis sales is hoped to offset costs from the newly legalized drugs. The funds could go toward helping officers judge if a driver is impaired from marijuana use, he said.
“There’s a lot of costs that we’re not quite aware of yet but this revenue should help us to offset that,” Kern said.
He added some tax revenue will go to “bolstering” law enforcement programs, as per the state’s legislation on legalization.
“I would hope that we can use this to fund law enforcement programs,” Kern said. “There are programs that we would like to do and things we would like to do and our hope is that this revenue would allow us to help out in areas of law enforcement.”
Kern said the special meeting was held to ensure the county passed an ordinance and submitted it to the Illinois Department of Revenue before the end of the month. He said with the next meeting of the board being the same day, the county couldn’t take any chances.
St. Clair is the first county in the metro-east to vote on and approve taxation of cannabis since cannabis sales were made legal through new state law.
However, cities in the area have already started discussing how cannabis sales will be handled. In some cases, cities are discussing whether they’ll even allow the sale of cannabis products within their corporate limits.
Sales will officially become legal Jan. 1, 2020.
Kavahn Mansouri is a reporter with the Belleville News-Democrat, a news partner of St. Louis Public Radio.
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