By MIKE NESTER

The Savanna City Council approved the first reading of an ordinance Tuesday, Sept. 10, that would allow cannabis related businesses to be established in the city's two business districts as well as in the general manufacturing district.

Council members voted 6-1 to approve the first reading of the ordinance that amends the current zoning laws for Savanna.

Ald. Jeff Griswold wanted to table the item until after Savanna Mayor Chris Lain holds a public forum on Tuesday, Sept. 24.

Mayor Lain said his forum doesn't have anything to do with the zoning issue and felt there was no reason to delay action.

The council voted 5-2 not to table the issue, with Griswold and Ald. Jim Friedenbach voting to table the issue.

Beginning Jan. 1, 2020, the Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act, approved by the state legislature and signed by the governor, will take effect, legalizing the possession and sale of marijuana in Illinois.

As part of the new law, several business opportunities will be made available including craft growing, cultivating centers, dispensing facilities, processing facilities, and transporting businesses.

Under the new ordinance, all five types of businesses would be allowed in the city limits of Savanna as long as they were located in one of the three designated business areas.

Dispensing facilities are regulated by the Department of Financial and Professional Regulation while the rest of them fall under the Illinois Department of Agriculture. None of the businesses will be allowed to operate within 1,000 feet of a school property boundary.

Here's a brief overview of the types of businesses that will be created under the new Cannabis Act:

•Craft Grower—A faculty operated to cultivate, dry, cure, and package cannabis and perform other necessary activities to make cannabis available for sale at a dispensing organization ruse at a processing organization.

A craft grower may contain up to 5,000 square feet of canopy space on its premises for plants in the flowering state. A craft grower may share premises with a processing organization or a dispensing organization, or both, provided each licenses stores currency and cannabis or cannabis infused products in a separate secured vault.

This is a new type of license for Illinois and they will issue up to 100 licenses by Dec. 21, 2021.

•Cultivation Center—A facility to cultivate, process, transport and perform other necessary activities to provide cannabis and cannabis infused product to cannabis business establishment.

There are currently 20 cultivation centers in Illinois with growing operations in Freeport (In Grown Farms) and Rock Island (Green Thumb Industries). The 20 exiting centers will be the only ones to apply for additional cultivation centers and at no time can their be more than 30.

•Dispensing Organization—A business for the purpose of selling or dispensing cannabis, cannabis-infused products, cannabis seeds, paraphernalia or related supplies under this activity.

There are currently 55 medical dispensaries that sell cannabis in Illinois with The Dispensary in Fulton the closest to Savanna. There are two in Rockford and one in Milan near the Quad Cities.

The state plans to add up to 75 new licenses by May 1 of 2020 and those will be owned and operated by dispensaries that already sell medical cannabis. Another 110 licenses will be awarded to new businesses owners by Dec. 21, 2021.

•Processing Organization—Operated to either extract constituent chemicals or compounds to produce cannabis concentrate or incorporate cannabis or cannabis concentrate into a product formulation to produce a cannabis product.

A new license that allows for the production of cannabis based products such as edibles. The state plans on issuing 100 licenses by Dec. 21, 2021.

•Transport Organization—A business that transport cannabis on behalf of a cannabis business establishment. A new license that allows for the transportation of recreational cannabis. The state plans on issuing 100 licenses by Dec. 21, 2021.

At the end of the Sept. 10 council meeting, three Savanna citizens spoke in favor of allowing cannabis businesses into the city and no one from the crowded council chambers spoke against the issue.

Former alderman Sara Purdom said Savanna was in no position to turn down business opportunities and discussed the benefits Fulton is getting from its medical dispensary.

Local resident Sherri Castro said she had visited a border town in Colorado for several years and saw the small town prosper from the legalization of marijuana. Also speaking in favor was resident Jacob Helms.

The ordinance will be up for a second reading and approval at the Sept. 24 city council meeting.