Galesburg Council lays framework for commercial cannabis

Galesburg Aldermen approved a zoning ordinance that will officially clear the way for a cannabis business to enter the town.

Despite some vocal opposition, Council voted 6-1.

There were comments from several members of the community spoke who oppose cannabis legalization and the idea of a dispensary in town.

KCAP President Ken Springer says he thinks a lot of the speakers were relitigating a matter of law and social policy that the Illinois General Assembly has already decided on.

“Many communities are voting right now to restrict sales and they’re saying they’re taking a moral stance. But, I would like to point out that, again, that does not prevent residents from simply driving one town over, spending retail dollars in the next community over and bringing cannabis back to Galesburg.”

Alderman Wayne Dennis was the lone no vote, saying he wouldn’t vote for an ordinance that allowed cannabis business to operate near residences.

While the building is next to a residential neighborhood, it is zoned B-2 for General Business.

Alderman Wayne Allen, at the end of the meeting, said he knows the vote was controversial.

“Not everybody has to agree but sometimes we have to do things that we really wonder about to keep progress moving forward. And, I think that’s what we did tonight.”

Speakers said they didn’t want marijuana in Galesburg, calling it a “gateway drug”, loosely citing statistics and urging the council to think about children.

Community leader Dwight White was vocal that he didn’t want a dispensary in his “neighborhood”, and also several clergy and members of the faith community spoke against the zoning.

Alderman Peter Schwartzman asked about the reasoning for a separate item, to reduce Nature’s Treatment’s sales tax by 1.5 percent until 2021.

Springer says this help’s NTI and Galesburg, by helping the business keep prices low as to compete with cannabis from the black market.

City Manager Todd Thompson says this offer wouldn’t be extended to other businesses. Council approved the agreement 7-0.

One modification to the ordinance’s original draft was an inclusion of the downtown in areas where commercial cannabis could set up.

This changed was approved by the Galesburg Downtown Council with President Phil Dickinson saying before the council he didn’t think it would be appropriate to “eliminate the downtown from a business setting.”

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