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City prepares for new cannabis landscape

Lee, Reyes reappointed to Municipal Band Commission

STERLING – Whether to allow indoor "smoke rooms" once marijuana becomes legal is one of the many things Sterling must consider.

That's the advice City Attorney Tim Zollinger gave the City Council Monday.

Once Gov. J.B. Pritzker signs the bill, as promised, those 21 and older will be allowed to possess up to 30 grams of cannabis or 5 grams of cannabis-infused oils as of Jan 1. Medical cannabis cardholders also will be allowed to grow up to five plants per household.

The city will be allowed to add a tax of up to 3% on sales.

It will not be legal to ban marijuana shops, so the council needs to consider how it wants to zone for them, and also whether to allow “smoke rooms,” Zollinger said.

“If you're asking if there's some irony in the fact you can open a cannabis on-site smoke room but you can’t smoke cigarettes in a bar, yes I suppose there’s some irony,” Zollinger said. “But you, as a city, could ban those establishments outright, completely.”

Also Monday, the council voted unanimously to reappoint Gonzalo Reyes and Allen Lee to the Sterling Municipal Band Commission, but not without a warning from one of its members.

Alderman John Stauter said he took issue with the reappointments, good for 5 years, because of what he characterized as the commission’s history of unreliability, fiscal irresponsibility and lack of effort to seek public input.

“I know we’ve heard different conversations from the public on all this, and I just feel at this time I’d like to see a little more resolve with all the issues,” Stauter said. “They weren’t going to change their budget or watch their money until it was brought up in their council [commission] meeting.”

He made it clear that his problem isn't just with Reyes and Lee, but with the entire commission.

“They’ve got the budget in line and they seem to be headed down the right street, but we haven’t even seen the full summary yet,” Stauter said.

Reyes and Lee were appointed to the commission in 2014, at a time when it was in disarray, and have since brought it back to a "functioning commission," said Mayor Skip Lee, Allen's brother.

“They’ve made an effort to improve things,” Lee said. “I believe they are worthy of being reappointed to the council.”

Despite Stauter’s reservations, he agreed to reappoint Reyes and Lee as long as the band commission produces reports at the council’s request.

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