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The Sangamon County Board voted 18-7 Tuesday night to allow marijuana-related businesses in unincorporated parts of the county, including up to two cannabis dispensaries, in 2020 and beyond.

The vote came after vocal opponents of marijuana on the board said the operations of cannabis businesses should be limited as much as possible in rural Sangamon County, even though Springfield officials will allow such businesses in the city, because such businesses would lead to a negative economic climate, more impaired driving and more addiction.

“This is going to change the look of this county,” said Craig Hall, a Republican representing District 7 who voted against the proposal only weeks before legalization of recreational use and sales of marijuana to adults 21 and older in Illinois takes effect Jan. 1. “My opinion is it’s not good for business.”

A proposed amendment by Todd Smith, a Republican representing District 2, to ban marijuana dispensaries entirely from unincorporated Sangamon County but allow cultivation centers, infusers, processors and transportation companies failed on a vote of 8 to 17.

Smith originally proposed banning all cannabis-related businesses from unincorporated areas, but that idea failed to gain traction among a majority of county board members this fall.

Supporters of the resolution that passed, sponsored by Republicans Annette Fulgenzi of District 17 and Lisa Hills of District 23, said little during the meeting.

But Fulgenzi said last month that she was “trying to find a middle ground” by creating investment and job opportunities in rural parts of the county while limiting the number of dispensaries and banning on-site consumption of marijuana at any dispensaries that may open in unincorporated areas.

She said limiting on-site consumption was intended to ease fears on the board about creating additional work for the county sheriff’s department related to cannabis-related impaired driving.

The board ended up supporting Fulgenzi’s resolution, which was approved 6-4 by the board’s public health, solid waste and zoning committee on Nov. 24.

Those voting for the resolution Tuesday included Fulgenzi, Hills and fellow Republicans Pam Deppe, District 5; Abe Forsyth, District 27; Tim Krell, District 15; Tom Madonia Jr., District 9; Ryan Melchin, District 28; Brad Miller, District 13; George Preckwinkle, District 25; Jason Ratts, District 10; Sam Snell, District 6; Cathy Scaife, District 29; Jeffrey Thomas, District 4; Joel Tjelmeland Jr., District 14; and Lori Williams, District 8.

Also voting in favor were Democrats Linda Douglas-Williams, District 20; Rose Ruzic, District 18; and Vera Small, District 19.

Voting against the resolution were Democrat Clyde Bunch, District 21; and Republicans Harry “Tom” Fraase Jr., District 1; Linda Fulgenzi, District 12; Craig Hall, District 7; John O’Neill, District 26; Todd Smith, District 2; and Mike Sullivan, District 11.

In other business, the board approved another one-year contract with Memorial Health Partners LLC for county workers for Memorial Choice Health Services for $121,524.

The board also approved a $48,000 expansion of medical and mental-health services from Peoria-based Advanced Correctional Healthcare, putting the next one-year contract at $983,442.

The contract, which expands available hours for mental-health counseling for inmates of the Sangamon County Jail, recognizes the increasing number of inmates with behavioral health issues and the county’s desire to not make those issues worse, county administrator Brian McFadden said.

Contact Dean Olsen: dean.olsen@sj-r.com, 788-1543, twitter.com/DeanOlsenSJR.

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