NuEra to open Pekin cannabis dispensary — the first in town

Mike Kramer

| Pekin Daily Times

Pekin’s business community will soon include an adult-use cannabis dispensary.

The Pekin City Council approved a special use authorization request from the Wheaton-based cannabis company NuEra to establish an adult-use dispensary at 3249 Court St. by a 6-1 margin during Monday’s meeting. Council member Mike Garrison cast the lone dissenting vote.

“It’s still federally illegal,” Garrison explained. “Even though I would vote yes (if it were legal at the federal level), I’m voting no.”

In addition to opening the adult-use facility, NuEra could potentially use a portion of 3261 Court St., Pekin, for additional lobby space. NuEra has a dispensary in East Peoria and is apparently looking to expand its operations in central Illinois.

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“We searched different areas (in Pekin), but we found (the Court Street site) most accommodating, mostly because of the location and the parking that’s available,” said NuEra principal officer Keith McGinnis. “It meets all of our requirements.”

While he did not comment on when he expected the new dispensary to open, McGinnis estimated it would create 15 to 20 new jobs and would generate between $300,000 and $400,000 annually in tax revenue. He noted the adult-use cannabis industry is highly regulated, with strict security standards, and believes the NuEra dispensary will not have a disruptive impact on surrounding businesses. However, Ross Gould, chairman of the Good Shepherd Lutheran School board, expressed concerns about the dispensary’s location. The school owns property at 3201 Court St., as well as vacant property at 3219 Court St., that Gould hopes the school will build on or use in the future.

“With all the empty commercial buildings in Pekin, we just think it’s very unfortunate that (NuEra) has chosen to place such a facility in close proximity to any church or school,” he added. “We just feel there are better places. We know it’s going to go somewhere, but we don’t feel it’s appropriate to have it so close to 3 to 12-year-olds who are playing in the field adjacent to that property.”

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According to Pekin city attorney Kate Swise, the code in Pekin states that a cannabis dispensary must be at least 100 feet from a church or school. The distance between the dispensary and the school’s lot line is about 250 feet.

“That’s (also) how we would measure for a liquor license: from the actual establishment, not the larger building or shopping center that it would be in,” said Swise.

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