Second group inquires about marijuana facility in Iroquois County

Second group inquires about marijuana facility in Iroquois County

WATSEKA — A second group is interested in bringing a medical marijuana growing facility to Iroquois County.

County Board Chairman Rod Copas informed the board's policy and procedure committee of the news but did not disclose details.

Copas said he and Ken Barragree, executive director of the Iroquois Economic Development Association, have continued discussions with the first person to inquire about establishing a medical marijuana cultivation operation in the county.

David Hayes, an attorney representing a former area resident, met with Copas and Barragree recently to discuss the proposal further, Copas said.

"We just had a really nice discussion about it all," Copas said. "It's all a work in progress. We'll see how it all plays out."

Copas said Hayes and his client are having a real estate agent look for a location. Copas said it is his understanding that the facility would be built in a rural area "very close" to the District 21 Illinois State Police headquarters in Ashkum.

Under the state's Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act, one marijuana cultivation center is allowed in each of the state police's 22 districts. District 21 covers Ford, Iroquois and Kankakee counties. Like Iroquois County, Kankakee County has been fielding inquiries.

The Illinois Department of Agriculture does not anticipate accepting applications for cultivation center licenses until this fall.

Board member Russell Bills of Watseka said he thinks a medical marijuana grower would be a good thing for Iroquois County, as it would bring jobs and investments in the county's infrastructure. The facility would also bring in building-permit fees and property tax revenue.

Copas said a medical marijuana cultivation facility would also give money to the county to be used for substance-abuse treatment programs.

The Department of Agriculture will be awarding up to 22 permits to grow and cultivate marijuana, while the Department of Financial and Professional Regulation will be issuing up to 60 permits for dispensaries.

"The attorney that came here, their group is not interested in a dispensary as well," Copas said. "They want to do the growing."

The Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act requires that all marijuana be grown indoors and that cultivation centers have strict security measures and be at least 2,500 feet from any schools and residentially zoned areas.

Will Brumleve is editor of the Paxton Record, a News-Gazette community newspaper. For more, visit paxtonrecord.net.

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