Chris Stone | St. Louis Public Radio

Chris Stone

Cannabis plants grow inside Ascend Illinois indoor facility in Barry, IL. Ascend owns two existing medical dispensaries and plans to open two additional recreational dispensaries early next year.
File Photo | Eric Schmid | St Louis Public Radio

Updated at 8:15 p.m., Dec. 17:

By a vote of 7-3, the Fairview Heights City Council voted to allow and tax recreational cannabis sales in the city.

Original story from 8:30 a.m., Dec. 17:

FAIRVIEW HEIGHTS — The city council will decide if it wants to allow and tax recreational cannabis sales in the community at its meeting on Tuesday night. 

Fairview Heights finds itself facing a decision similar to the one other Metro East communities did after Illinois state legislators voted to allow recreational marijuana use for people 21 and older starting Jan. 1.

Recreational marijuana facility in San Francisco, California in Nov. 2018
File photo | Jaclyn Driscoll | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri has already approved more than 17,000 patients for its yet-to-be-launched medical marijuana program — a stark contrast to neighboring Illinois, which had fewer than 3,000 patients in the first 10 months. 

Licenses for Missouri’s dispensaries are expected to be awarded by January, and cannabis should be available for medical card holders by spring. 

At their core, Missouri and Illinois programs do the same thing: They allow doctors to certify patients to use cannabis if they have a qualifying condition. But there are significant differences in the details of each law, including who has access, how they’re getting access and how the programs can be changed in the future.