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Local

Speakers at public hearing come out against marijuana

City Council to vote at later date

Lillian Harbecke of Sycamore speaks at a public hearing Monday against the idea of allowing sales of recreational marijuana in Sycamore. Speakers at the hearing were mostly against the idea. The city council will vote at a later meeting, ahead of the state's legalization on Jan. 1.
Lillian Harbecke of Sycamore speaks at a public hearing Monday against the idea of allowing sales of recreational marijuana in Sycamore. Speakers at the hearing were mostly against the idea. The city council will vote at a later meeting, ahead of the state's legalization on Jan. 1.

SYCAMORE – At a public hearing Monday night, the Sycamore City Council learned the people of Sycamore are against bringing recreational marijuana to town.

The majority of the speakers spoke out against allowing the sale of recreational marijuana in the city, and aldermen said their constituents had been just as against the proposal.

“After discussion with the residents, I would recommend that we say ‘Not yet,’ ” 1st Ward Alderman Josh Huseman said. He said that in talking to his constituents, he felt the responses were about 3-to-1 against allowing the sales of recreational marijuana, which he said was in line with the ratio of people who spoke at the public hearing.

Speakers at the public hearing were overwhelmingly against the idea of Sycamore authorizing the sale of recreational marijuana within the city.

The city council cannot decide if recreational marijuana is going to be legal in Illinois. The Illinois General Assembly voted to legalize recreational marijuana beginning Jan. 1.

The City Council does have to decide if Sycamore will allow sales in the community and, if so, where and how it would be regulated.

Jeff Lewis, a Sycamore resident, said he and his wife encourage the city to opt out.

“We don’t think that Sycamore is the right place to put marijuana stores,” he said. “This isn’t about whether you use it or not. ... We don’t need to sell it here.”

Many of the speakers were parents, concerned about either the availability of marijuana in town or what message allowing the stores would send.

Lillian Harbecke said Sycamore has been a good community for her to raise her children.

“When I saw we were considering marijuana, I felt grieved in my heart,” she said. “I thought, are you willing to sacrifice our young people for money? Is it the young people you care about or the money?”

Not everyone at the public hearing was against the sales, however.

“I feel like I’ve been watching ‘Reefer Madness,’ ” Jan Loomer said, referencing the 1936 film about the dangers of smoking marijuana. “You don’t have to buy the stuff, folks. If you don’t want to do it, don’t buy it. ... It’s adults making a decision, and if Sycamore can make some money, what the hey?”

After the hearing, council members discussed their view to provide direction for city staff.

When the issue first was discussed in September, the council seemed in favor of allowing and regulating sales in town.

About half of the aldermen were in favor of exploring the options after the public hearing.

Huseman advocated seeing what other communities did, saying there was no need to be an early adopter.

Third Ward Alderwoman Nancy Copple said she was against it but also suggested having a referendum for the people to decide directly on the topic.

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