Now that the Riverside Village Board has voted to allow a recreational marijuana store in town, they have some work to do. I personally am ambivalent about it, and to a greater extent I feel a bit hypocritical. I want legalized pot, I am not sure it is good for Riverside to allow sales of it.
President Sells indicated at the board meeting that the information has been public for several months, and that it is a vocal minority opposing it on emotional grounds and not using scientific arguments.
That is a little unfair, given how many of us grew up be taught that pot was a dangerous illicit drug. Just because it has been on the board agenda, and in articles in the RB Landmark, does not ensure that the public is fully informed.
With an issue as important as this, the public needs to be more informed. I did not know that the topic has been addressed by various committees and watching the board meeting last week was the first I heard that. Trustees Jisa and Peters were correct in saying that the board needs to do more to educate the community. A town hall meeting is a good idea, but may not be enough.
The work the board needs to do now is explain to the residents what the reality is going to be. They say the sales of legal recreational marijuana is highly regulated – what does that mean specifically? What are the regulations and how will they be implemented and monitored and enforced here? Are there regulations the village have increased, or waived? Why?
How will residents near a marijuana store have their concerns addressed? If it is at the old TitleMax location, will the village put in a cul-de-sac, as the residents on Berkeley have requested? Be specific.
The proponents of marijuana sales explain that it is for revenue. How much revenue? How is that calculated? How will accounting happen in a cash only business? Would there be tax breaks for the store? What will the revenue to go, and how will increased policing be offset? Given that drunk driving is a big concern, how will drugged driving be addressed? How will the village ensure that is stays out of the hands of kids?
The Riverside trustees really do need to ensure that the community concerns are addressed thoroughly, or this will continue to cause anger and frustration.