Rock Island council members this week discussed amending the city’s cannabis ordinance to allow the use of recreational marijuana inside retail tobacco stores.

Miles Brainard, Rock Island Planning and Redevelopment Administrator, has suggested loosening the ordinance. According to Brainard, there been changes at the state level council members should consider.

“The business must maintain a designated area for the smoking to take place,” Brainard said. “It could be one small part of the store or it could be the whole store. These types of businesses cannot have any type of liquor, food or restaurant license.

We are not recommending imposing any fees.”

Brainard has said that the cafes or lounges would be allowed only in industrial and business districts, and must be at least 100 feet away from any residential-zoned district.

Alderman Randy Hurt, Ward 2, commented, “How do we know people are bringing it in from the legal dispensary and not off the street?” Hurt said. “I think there is a lot of liability. I don’t think the city or state has clarified how this is going to be enforced by local law enforcement. There is too much out there that is unknown at this point.”

Alderman James Spurgetis, Ward 3, remarked, “The police department has gotten very little guidance or training from the state of Illinois when it comes to cannabis,” Police Chief Jeff VenHuizen said. “We are literally in unchartered territory.”

The city’s Mayor Mike Thoms said he is opposed to allowing cannabis smoking lounges in the city.

“There’s really no financial gain for the city to do this, unless we license it or impose special use permits,” Thoms said. “Other than that, there is no revenue. I do oppose this sort of thing at this point. I would appreciate more of a wait and see how laws change and how it shakes out in other cities.”

“On the separate areas, are they areas or separate rooms? Does there have to be a door closed so that if I want to go in there and smoke a cigar I’m not exposed to cannabis?”

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