PAXTON — A rural Rankin man working to bring the recreational cannabis industry to rural East Central Illinois encouraged Paxton City Council members on Tuesday night to attend a “cannabis awareness seminar” he is organizing to educate the public about the pros and cons of marijuana, which will become legal for adults to use and buy in Illinois next year.
Daiven Kayne Michael Emling said he has been in contact with Watseka officials about possibly holding the seminar at City Hall in the Iroquois County seat. Emling said he is aiming for a 6 p.m. start to the seminar, which is expected to be held Tuesday, Nov. 19.
“I understand this is a darker industry, but I assure you I will be bringing as much light as I can to the subject and will be answering as many questions as I can, or at least point you in the right direction,” Emling told the council.
Emling said that as he has attended numerous village board and city council meetings in recent months, he has noticed many people have concerns about marijuana, likely as a result of “misinformation” or a lack of education about the drug.
“It’s not just here; it’s across the whole state,” Emling said, “so I’m trying to bridge that gap.”
Emling said he hopes his seminar can help alleviate some of the public’s fears.
“I’m not just trying to hit one angle — I want (to discuss) the pros and cons,” Emling said. “I want everybody who attends to leave there knowing that it wasn’t some biased, one-way information. ... I want to hear from everybody who has a concern about this industry coming to this area.”
Last summer, Emling announced his plans to open a cannabis dispensary, bakery and cafe in the area, along with a craft-growing operation, and he has been exploring possible locations ever since. In recent weeks, Emling said he has been securing investors and now intends to expand on his original plans to include additional dispensaries and growing operations.
Emling again expressed his interest in bringing a cannabis business to Paxton. However, while the council has already approved imposing a 3 percent municipal tax on the sale of recreational marijuana within city limits, aldermen have not yet decided whether to allow any cannabis-related business to open locally.
With the new law legalizing the sale of recreational marijuana going into effect in fewer than two months, Emling urged aldermen to act quickly to show prospective cannabis business owners like himself if they will be welcome in Paxton.
“I’d like to work with you guys, but if Paxton wants to opt out, hey, no hard feelings,” Emling told aldermen. “I just kind of want to know where my time needs to go.”
There would be benefits beyond sales tax revenue to any city willing to bring in a cannabis business, Emling noted.
“This is going to bring in lots of jobs,” Emling said. “I’m looking at 10 people per distribution facility, 150 people for processing plants/cultivation centers. I could ramble on.
“Weed is going to be legal. It’s here. Opting out isn’t going to stop it.”