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Fulton debates the sale of recreational marijuana

Mayor Ottens says he will suggest to the council to wait for the county’s decision before making their own.

FULTON, ILLINOIS  --  Medical marijuana has been legal in Fulton, Illinois for the last three years.

Now, city and county lawmakers are weighing the future of recreational pot. It's legal in the state on January 1, 2020.

"You can see both sides," Fulton Mayor Mike Ottens said. "It's a compelling argument. It's probably about a 50/50. There are those who see the positive aspects of not having it, and then there are those that say it's the state law it's going to happen and we need the revenue."

Fulton already has a medical marijuana dispensary and a doctor that treats patients with qualifying conditions.

"Fulton has got a reputation of providing medical cannabis to the residents," Starflower Wellness Center Medical Director Dr. Mark Woods said. "It's already put into place, so it's only natural that those same people will come here for recreational use."

Mayor Ottens says recreational marijuana could be a money maker and the city could bring in up to $200,000 in tax revenue from the sales.

"I feel like marijuana for the sake of tax revenue is the wrong way to try and generate money to pave a road or fix a park," resident Kyle Folk said.

The city council voted not to change zoning laws dictating where marijuana can be sold, but they still have to decide if they want it sold in the city at all. If Whiteside County allows the sell of marijuana, the mayor says it could still be close to town.

"The recreational marijuana facility could be right outside our city limits and all that tax revenue goes to the county," Mayor Ottens said. "It doesn't come to the city."

Mayor Ottens says he will suggest to the council to wait for the county's decision before making their own.

The Whiteside County Board is set to vote on the sell of recreational marijuana in December.

"It could bring more people to the area which could only help the area in so many ways," resident Melissa Bousman said.