EAST DUBUQUE, Ill. — City of East Dubuque officials have established rules for prospective businesses seeking to sell recreational cannabis products within the community.

City Council members this week unanimously approved an ordinance setting guidelines for recreational cannabis businesses. The ordinance establishes location restrictions and annual permitting fees.

Cities throughout Illinois have drafted similar ordinances after state lawmakers earlier this year voted to legalize the drug. Marijuana sales and use will become legal as of Jan. 1.

Council members voted to allow the establishment of recreational cannabis dispensaries, growers, cultivation centers, infusers, processors and transporting organizations.

Mayor Kirk VanOstrand said the rules follow guidelines proposed by the Illinois Municipal League. However, they have been left open for potential future amendments.

“We did a lot of research on this,” VanOstrand said. “This is how it will work for now, but we can always amend something down the road.”

The rules state that any cannabis business must be located at least 1,000 feet away from a public or private school, nursery, preschool, day care center or residential day care.

Those businesses must also pay the city an initial permit fee of $1,500, followed by an annual renewal fee of $1,500.

City Manager Loras Herrig said he insisted the fees be enacted as a way to generate additional revenue for the city.

“We are operating in deficit areas,” Herrig said. “We need to create more revenue for the city. We don’t want to put it on the backs of taxpayers.”

During the meeting, East Dubuque resident DJ Loeffelholz, who currently serves on the East Dubuque School Board, was asked to weigh in due to his stated interest in developing a recreational cannabis business.

“I have been working on building a team to look into applying for different cannabis-related businesses in the Jo Daviess County area,” Loeffelholz said. “We’re looking to do some things. We want to make sure that it is done responsibly.”

State licenses for selling recreational marijuana could be challenging and costly to obtain. The first 55 licenses will be issued to already-approved medical marijuana dispensaries.

An additional 75 licenses will be given out before May 2020. By January 2021, 110 additional licenses will be awarded. A total of 500 dispenser licenses will be available by January 2022. Each license will cost $5,000.

“I am aware of four solid candidates that are applying for a license and are interested in East Dubuque,” Herrig said. “There are five others that are interested, but they are more up in the air.”

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