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Survey of DeKalb County Board leads to a perceived consensus on recreational marijuana

Derek Hiland lays out the different cannabis businesses during the DeKalb County Committee of the Whole meeting Thursday night at the Five Seasons Room in the Community Outreach Building in DeKalb.
Derek Hiland lays out the different cannabis businesses during the DeKalb County Committee of the Whole meeting Thursday night at the Five Seasons Room in the Community Outreach Building in DeKalb.

DEKALB – Mark Pietrowski, DeKalb County Board chairman, said Wednesday night he believes the board gave a general consensus on rules to move forward on the issue of recreational marijuana.

It seemed to be an effective meeting, given the point of the meeting, which Derek M. Hiland, DeKalb County Community Development Department director, said was to see where the County Board might vote on recreational cannabis dispensaries.

“What we want to do is gauge your barometer,” he said. “Understand where you as a board will be on these very items so we can kind of craft and curtail the ordinance accordingly.”

The results he wanted were to see where people were on the issue of allowing the six types of recreational cannabis businesses in unincorporated DeKalb County. The board members were allowed to vote yes no, or uncertain.

The six types of businesses – and how the board voted in the survey – are as follows:

• Craft grower: A facility that cultivates, dries, cures and packages cannabis to make it available for sale at some other location – 16 board members voted yes and three voted no.

• Cultivation Center: A facility that cultivates, processes and transports products to a business establishment at some other location – 16 voted yes and two voted no and one member voted uncertain.

One wrinkle, which Pietrowski expected, was with a “dispensing business.”

A dispensing business is a facility operating for the purpose of selling or dispensing cannabis and related products.

There were two different votes on this. Off-site consumption only means someone can’t use the drug at the place where they buy it. On-site consumption means they can use it at the dispensary.

• A dispensing business with off-site consumption only: 13 voted yes, five voted no and one voted uncertain.

• A dispensing business with on-site consumption: Six voted yes, 11 voted no and two voted uncertain.

• Infuser: A facility that infuses cannabi making a product to be sold at another location – 13 voted yes and six voted no.

• Processor: A facility that extracts chemicals or compounds to produce cannabis concentrate or incorporate cannabis into a formulation or product – 15 voted yes, three voted no and one voted uncertain.

• Transporter: A business that transports cannabis on behalf of a cannabis business establishment or a community college – 16 voted yes, one voted no and two voted uncertain.

Hiland said he wasn’t surprised by the results.

“It’s kind of what I would’ve guessed,” Hiland said after the votes were tallied.

Pietrowski said he wasn’t surprised either by the results. He said although he’s not against on-site consumption in general, he is concerned with on-site consumption being available at potential dispensaries in unincorporated DeKalb County.

He compared the issue with recreational cannabis use and driving with drinking alcohol and then driving.

Pietrowski said in the downtown areas, the people who drink at bars have ride-hailing services, taxis, or they can walk to the bar and back home. He had the same concern for those who use marijuana on-site.

“I’m concerned if they’re in rural areas they’d be more tempted to drive,” Pietrowski said.

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