One hot-button issue before Sacramento City Council members Tuesday night was cannabis.

Specifically, they discussed zoning and permitting - and the cost for one of those permits.

Council members clearly felt the weight and deadline of their decisions.

"Marijuana becomes legal January the first. We need to get this body of work done before the first of the year," Mayor Darrell Steinberg told the council.

"As our state's voters decided to legalize marijuana use for adults recreationally, we as a city have an opportunity here to make good decisions," councilmember Steve Hansen said.

One agenda item would help define where a cannabis distributor can be located in the city and would draw a line between large manufacturers and small ones when it comes to conditional use permits.

The other marijuana-related agenda item would help small businesses by creating a three-tiered permit system.

Businesses manufacturing marijuana for smoking, for example, would pay more than, say, a business that simply packages and labels it. Currently, all businesses manufacturing any kind of cannabis product have to pay $30,900.

As a small-business owner in Sacramento, Casey Knott said that's a large sum of money.

"For someone starting up, it's a huge deal, for sure," he told ABC10 Tuesday evening at his facility.

Knott owns Sacramento-based 420 Stock, which is not subject to cannabis regulations because he only sells containers for the stuff.

"Everything from pop-top bottles, concentrate containers, mylar bags," he listed.

Some of his customers, however - small Sacramento business-owners like himself - do rely on a permit.

"You know, I think everyone in the industry is really afraid that it's going to get taken over by the bigger players," Knott said. "The tiered licensing structure will really help ensure that, you know, the smaller players will get to bat."

Back to the council meeting, member Jay Schenirer talked about the need to make it easier for smaller businesses to enter the industry.

"That's a primary reason to move forward with some urgency, because there are folks out there who want to gain entrance into the industry but can't afford the higher fees," he said.

Some council members felt these changes came before them too quickly for a vote.

"This is the first chance that there's a mic in front of my mouth to talk about this particular item and this tiered system," councilmember Angelique Ashby said, "and I think it is ridiculous and would be horrifying in implementation in any of our districts, and I will certainly do everything in my power to fight it out of mine."

Council members ultimately pushed the whole matter back to their Nov. 28 meeting, where they're already scheduled to discuss other cannabis-related items, such as background checks.