Murphysboro council to discuss marijuana, video gaming - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Murphysboro council to discuss marijuana, video gaming

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MURPHYSBORO (WSIL) -- Elected officials in every Illinois town are figuring out what role they want to have in legalized marijuana.

At the same time, most of those towns are also dealing with expanded gambling, and Murphysboro Mayor Will Stephens plans on getting the conversation started about both at the next city council meeting Tuesday night.

Stephens said he isn't a fan of legalized marijuana.

"We shouldn't be putting people in prison for a long time for taking in marijuana. That's never been something I've supported," Stephens said. "But I always felt like legalization, which will ultimately lead to normalization and proliferation, doesn't lead to a healthier community."

Come January 1, cannabis will legal state-wide, but cities have the option to prohibit marijuana businesses from setting up shop.

"If we opted out, we would certainly lose a certain amount of tax revenue," Stephens said. "You have to say to yourself, 'What is the tax revenue worth to us?' No different than is some senses, video gaming: How much video gaming does a community want to have in it?"

The new state law allows businesses to have one more video gaming terminal, up to six, among other changes.

The council recently approved a tenth business for video gaming, bringing the total number of machines up to 51.

Stephens doesn't believe the city needs much more than that.

"There's only so much pie in terms of money to be spent on video gaming," Stephens said.

He also said there's other organizations that have video gaming terminals, like the Elks Lodge, the American Legion and the VFW, that could be impacted by more gaming.

"And frankly, they're just more engaged in the community than somebody who just wants to throw up a feather flag in front of an abandoned building and throw six machines in it and put money in their back pocket," Stephens said.

He plans on proposing a cap on gaming terminals, but it'll be up to the council to decide.

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