Shared from the 1/15/2020 Jacksonville Journal Courier eEdition

City clears way for pot-based businesses

Jacksonville now has a cannabis zone for any future businesses that deal in the lucrative recreational and medicinal marijuana industry.

The council voted 8-2, with aldermen Lori Large-Oldenettel and Don Cook casting Monday’s two dissenting votes.

Alderman Jeff Hopkins voted “yes” to the second reading, despite voting “no” to the first reading in December.

The ordinance would allow for dispensaries in Jacksonville upon approval from the city council as a special-use zoned business. Setbacks would prevent any retail facilities within residential areas and within 150 feet of a school, church or daycare facility; and any cultivation plants within 1,500 feet of those locations.

Mayor Andy Ezard said this will open Jacksonville up to cannabis-based businesses.

“There are some business folks out there that have an interest in opening some of these businesses,” Ezard said.

Alderman Brandon Adams presented several petitions with at least 40 signatures asking that the ordinance pass to allow for medical-use, adult recreational-use and lounge businesses.

“This is a great opportunity for Jacksonville,” Adams said.

With sales upwards of $19 million across the state since cannabis for adult recreational use became legal Jan. 1, the ordinance provides opportunities for the city to benefit from that revenue should cannabis-based businesses open in the community, Adams said.

Large-Oldenettel said her vote was based on feedback from her constituents.

“It’s very rare that I get phone calls, but on this topic I had several people call and ask that I vote against it, so I did for the first reading,” she said. “After the first reading, I received one call asking that I vote for it, but I had numerous calls saying they appreciated that I voted against it. It was driven by my constituents reaching out to me.”

The city previously passed an ordinance allowing the municipality to implement a 3% sales tax on any cannabis sales within city limits.

Adams is hopeful that this could lead to other business growth, such as transportation, which he believes could see a boost if a cannabis producer were to come to town, he said.

Though the ordinance passed Monday specifies where these types of businesses can set up shop, any business applications would have to go through the zoning board and plans commission before being voted on by the council as a special-use zoned business, Ezard said.

“The council will still have a say in any business that comes to Jacksonville,” Ezard said. “This just potentially sets things in motion for businesses looking for opportunities in Jacksonville.”

Other issues surrounding cannabis sales still are being discussed.

Jacksonville’s special studies committee will meet at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, when members will be discussing cannabis equity and seeking community input.

Adams, who is a member of the committee, said they will be discussing how sales tax income from cannabis sales should be divided and used within the budget.

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