EFFINGHAM — The Effingham County Board in a special meeting Wednesday passed a 3.5 percent cannabis retailers’ occupation tax in anticipation of recreational marijuana legalization, which takes effect Jan. 1.
The tax passed 6-2, with board Vice Chairman Dave Campbell and board member Lloyd Foster voting ‘no’.
Board Chairman Jim Niemann said in a recent United Counties Council of Illinois meeting, the consensus among county representatives was to pass a tax to offset the expected cost of enforcement when cannabis becomes legal for recreational use in the state.
“The statistic was they figured each user was going to cost the government about an average of $4.50 a year in added enforcement,” Niemann said. “At the advice of the UCCI, (local governments) are going to legalize it in the towns because they know residents are going to go to a neighboring town and buy some, bring it back, use it, and they’re going to have the cost associated with that.”
Niemann said counties that have a retailers’ tax in place are estimated to gain $1.50 per recreational user if there is a distributor facility within the county. He noted that The Clinic Effingham has already applied for a state license to sell recreational marijuana.
Niemann said he would like to see a portion of the revenue collected from the retailers’ tax tabbed for drug treatment and prevention in the county through the Effingham County Health Department.
“If this is something the county entertains ... I would suggest that half the money be earmarked for prevention and treatment through the health department,” Niemann said.
Board member John Perry said he would also like to see money earmarked for the 708 board, which covers countywide mental health services. Niemann said that idea would go along with his suggested tab for treatment; the board did not take action on earmarking any amount of the tax revenue.
Niemann said the state did not give counties the choice to legalize recreational marijuana in their jurisdiction. He said counties can only choose to allow the sale of recreational cannabis and whether or not to implement a tax on that sale.
As of Wednesday’s board meeting, the city of Effingham has not passed a cannabis retailers’ tax or established the rules that will allow The Clinic Effingham to sell recreational marijuana in the city. Altamont City Council this week passed a 3 percent sales tax on recreational marijuana. Last month Teutopolis Village Board members passed an ordinance prohibiting the manufacture or sale of recreational marijuana in their community.