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URBANA — The future of recreational-marijuana businesses in unincorporated areas of Champaign County might be in the hands of whoever county board Chairman Giraldo Rosales decides to appoint to the board next week.

On Thursday, the county board's environment and land use committee debated taking a first step toward allowing cannabis dispensaries, transporters, craft growers, cultivation centers, infusers and processors in certain zoning districts.

The committee typically has seven members but is currently down to six, because of Tanisha King-Taylor's resignation from the county board.

Republican Jodi Eisenmann argued against allowing the marijuana businesses.

“I don’t think it is in the best interest to have it,” Eisenmann said. “I am trying to do what is best for the children. Last year it was illegal, but in 2020 you can get high. There is less to regulate if we opt out of it.”

Democrat Stephanie Fortado offered an opposing viewpoint.

“Folks in these areas are going to be using the product,” Fortado said. “There are only going to be so many licenses.”

When it became apparent that its vote was headed for a 3-3 tie, the committee decided to postpone the decision until November, presumably after Rosales names King-Taylor’s replacement with the full county board’s approval.

If a text amendment allowing certain cannabis businesses is approved in November, Champaign County Zoning Administrator John Hall said the proposal would next go to the zoning board of appeals for a public hearing.

In other business, the committee also unanimously recommenced approving a recreation and entertainment license for Illini BMX motocross racing on five Saturdays at the county fairgrounds.


Tim Mitchell is a reporter at The News-Gazette. His email is, and you can follow him on Twitter (@mitchell6).