DIXON – Lee County soon might get its first legal marijuana growing operation.
According to the state's rules, only one county in each Illinois State Police district will be allowed to have a “cannabis cultivation center.” That means that in District One, the race is on among Carroll, Lee, Ogle, and Whiteside counties.
Tuesday, the Lee County Board took the first step to make sure its county gets the revenue – an estimated $1 million a year – and the jobs associated with having a growing center.
Members decided, although not unanimously, to sign a letter of support for AgriMed, a new company that, in partnership with Kreider Services, would bring a 20,000-square-foot growing operation to the Green River Industrial Park northwest of Amboy, along with 50 jobs that would pay above minimum wage.
The operation David Thomas, AgriMed's managing partner, proposed at the meeting would include a secure metal warehouse where the marijuana would be grown. All who work on site would be subject to a state police background check, and no one who works there can have a medical marijuana card, Thomas said.
“The building would have ... 24-hour security. It will have a live video system which is fed into the building to monitor it at all times,” he said.
The crop would be distributed to various dispensaries around the state, and so it wouldn't all necessarily remain local, he said. It will not be sold there.
Jeff Stauter, executive director of Kreider Services, also was on hand Tuesday to address the board's questions or concerns.
“It's pretty interesting, being in Ronald Reagan's hometown, talking about cannabis,” Stauter said with a smile at the beginning of his comments. “That wasn't on my bucket list.”
He said he hopes the new business will provide job opportunities for people with disabilities.
He also talked to the board about medical benefits of the type of marijuana that would be grown at the site.
“It's medicine that will help people we serve to live a better life,” he said.
Stauter said he expected revenue from the operation would bring the county up to $1 million a year.
“It's going to happen to one of the four of the counties,” said County Board Chairman Rick Ketchum. “So we're hoping we get it, obviously.”
AgriMed now must submit a detailed proposal to the state Department of Agriculture, which will make the final decision. Thomas said he hopes to have an answer by the end of the year.