(Geneseo)- Tuesday, October 22 an overflowing crowd of citizens came to hear a presentation from Kurt Asprooth of city law firm Ancel Glink on the new Recreational Cannabis Act. IT Director Garrett Griswold set up a screen, sound system, and several rows of chairs out in the lobby to accommodate everyone. The power point presentation provided a great deal of detail about how the law works, and what options the City has to regulate cannabis businesses, or opt-out of them altogether. The Council learned that Governor Pritzker signed the bill into law June 25, 2019 and it takes effect January 1, 2020. Up to 30 grams may be legally possessed, 5 grams in concentrate form. 500 mg may be held for edible cannabis products like brownies, cupcakes, even gummy bears. Up to 500 retail sale stores can be placed around the state by the end of 2022. However, only one in the region that includes Henry County may be sited by the end of 2021. The nearest medical marijuana facilities are in Fulton and Milan, IL. A 3% local tax can be assessed to a dispensary. But wholesale sales taxes at a grow facility go entirely to the state. However property taxes, utility taxes, and jobs are potential benefits. There are approximately 40,000 medical marijuana patients in Illinois. These individuals may grow five plants in their homes for personal use. Other users may not. And cannabis must be consumed on private residential property out of the presence of those under 21. After several Aldermen asked questions of Ancel Glink, Mayor Kathy Carroll-Duda opened the floor to public comments. First to speak was Ryan Shannon, Yourh Pastor of Geneseo Evamgelical Free Church. He spoke of the negative effects on young people in terms of productivity and behavior and related that many of his youth group members do not like the proliferation of pot in the community. Pastor Shannon led a group of students from E Free, First Baptist, St. Malachy’s and Faith Baptist on a petition drive against legal Rec Marijuana sales in the City. At one point the youth crews had collected 65 signatures in just an hour. He concluded his remarks by saying, “.Pick the people of Geneseo over profit.” Pastor Stephen Palm spoke next, the Senior Pastor at Geneseo Evangelical Free Church. He said he was speaking on behalf of the church’s 400 members In opposition to legalizing sales of recreational marijuana in the City. He cited statistics from Colorado and Washington, who have previously legalized cannabis, and have seen significant upticks in driving while impaired deaths and accidents. David Jones, a 52 year Geneseo resident said, “Just because the misguided politicians in Springfield approve something, it does not make it right.” Chris Martinez, who said he has owned Smart Cannabis Co. for 10 years, said that his business, cultivation facilities, focus on providing safe marijuana, at a competitive price, creating a “white market” that can outsell an illegal “black market.” Opening a grow facility, he said, “would be a way to sustain this community and keep people working.” He indicated he had talked at length with Geneseo Police Chief Casey Disterhoft about the safety and security of his facilities. Gary Joyner, a 4th Ward resident, took a different take on the revenue opportunity that cannabis could bring. “Why don’t we enforce the rules and regulations about it and collect fines and penalties from people who break the law? Like speeding tickets to drivers. “ Bob Thompson, the owner of the Geneseo Campground, cited the low unemployment rates currently, under 4 percent. “We don’t need new jobs, we need good places to live,” as he highlighted the hometown atmosphere of Geneseo prompted his purchase of the property here, as he relocated from Indiana. In total, 15 people spoke against and 2 in favor. 2nd Ward Alderman Bob James asked, “Is it better to go to referendum on this?” That is an option, but it would not be binding, as 3rd Ward Alderman Martin Rothschild pointed out. None of the Aldermen or City officials expressed an opinion on the issue during the meeting. However, the longest serving Alderman, Bob Wachtel, 2nd Ward, was interviewed by the Republic after the meeting. “I’d like to first thank all the people who came out tonight to speak and to listen. We heard a lot of feedback tonight, and I’ve received many comments, and done a lot of research on this issue over the last few months. I can say now, with confidence, that I am a firm ‘no’ vote. Geneseo is a special and unique community. Let’s preserve and protect that.,” Wachtel concluded. Alderman Craig Arnold, 1st Ward, was absent. The City Council will next discuss this issue at the November 19 Committee of the Whole at 6 PM.