Rock Island business has burning questions for the city

Local News

A Rock Island business owner has some burning questions for the city, and those answers could determine whether she stays in Rock Island.

Hickey Brothers Cigar Store is one of two businesses that told the city they want to start marijuana lounges, but the city hasn’t decided whether to allow them yet let alone how to regulate them.

The owner of the shop, Michelle Royal, says she could take her business elsewhere if the rules are too strict.

Says that letting marijuana users into her cigar lounge could help alleviate some of her lost business, due to the smoking age being raised to 21.

Royal says her shop would be the perfect locale for pot users to indulge.

“We have four smoke eaters in the place,” Royal said. “And we plan on adding other things in to help that. So we’ve not had a problem with the cigar smoke mitigating into other places.”

Royal also says it would help prevent the city from needing to get law enforcement involved.

“It puts them in a place that is contained. And especially with our outdoor events this summer, like you make-a my weekend which is a reggae fest, if you don’t have a public place for people to smoke, you’re gonna have it happening on the plaza and the plaza is owned by the city.”

Mike Thoms, Rock Island mayor says that he wants to work with Hickey Brothers, but are unsure if what the city does could keep them in town.

“We prefer not to lose any business,” Thoms said. “But whether that’s the primary source and whether by having that lounge would bring enough people in to keep him afloat the way he wishes to be is debatable.”

Thoms also says that another issue that hasn’t been addressed is how to interpret state regulations.

“State law talks about a separated area in the building..Is it separated by a rope? Is it separated by a wall and doors? So I assume since the state left that open, the city, if we wish to have them, gets to set those regulations on how we define a separate area,” Thoms said. “Along with dram-shop insurance. Whenever you serve alcohol at bars, you have to have insurance in case there’s issues. I guess we’d have to set that also.”

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