How marijuana sales tax revenues are impacting local communities

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PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) – As marijuana users celebrate the unofficial holiday known as 420, tax revenue generated by cannabis sales is benefitting Central Illinois communities.

More than two years since Illinois legalized recreational marijuana, Ashley Johnson, the general manager of nuEra East Peoria, said they’ve seen business boom.

"We’re seeing people a lot more comfortable coming into a dispensary, we’re seeing a lot of new faces a lot more often, every single day we’re seeing an influx in our numbers," Johnson said.

Since January 2020, the Illinois Department of Revenue reports that the state has collected more than $720 million dollars in tax revenue. A portion of that money trickles down into local communities.

"Right now we’re averaging about $11,500 dollars per month," said Scott Rathbun, finance director for the City of Bloomington.

"For us, that is somewhere in the neighborhood of $50,000 thousand dollars a year," said Scott Sorrel, Peoria County administrator.

On top of state taxes, counties and cities with dispensaries can impose a local sales tax as well. Rathbun and Sorrel said they cannot reveal exactly how much their respective county and city has received in marijuana sales tax revenue due to confidentiality ordered by the Department of Revenue.

In Peoria County, a 3.75 percent tax is helping in areas such as funding a position to exclusively work on expungements related to cannabis charges.

"Part of the same law that created the sales tax required us to expunge the criminal records of certain individuals based on the type of conviction they had," Sorrel said.

Sorrel said it has also helped create case managers within the Peoria County Sheriff’s Office to help individuals that have been released on pre-trial bond.

"To ensure that they are working with us in terms of trying to get their lives on the right path," Sorrel said.

In Bloomington, money generated from a 3 percent sales tax on marijuana is helping fund a portion of the cost of a $14 million dollar renovation of O’Neill Park and Pool.

"We aren’t going to have to borrow as much for that pool, saving interest expenses for the city because of some of these additional revenues," Rathbun said.

Rathbun added that tax revenues have also allowed the city to address strategic needs, including paying cash for equipment purchases.

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April 20, 2022 at 08:35PM

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