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Ogle County partners want to build craft grow operation in Oregon

Group optimistic about its prospects; public hearing planned

OREGON – A group of Ogle County residents is asking the City Council to allow a craft marijuana and infusion business on the southwest end of town.

Ed Messenger, David Murray, Cole Johnson, and Tyler Hagemann want to build The Tree Pharm on the former Basler’s Ace Hardware site, at 807 Pines Road, in the city’s commercial highway business district.

A public hearing to gather community comment will be held at 5:30 p.m. March 17 at City Hall.

The Tree Pharm plans to apply for a state license in March but will not know until July 1 whether it is granted on of the 40 to be distributed statewide. The city has indicated on the application, however, that it is in the process of approving The Tree Pharm.

“The plan is to be operational within 90 days,” said Messenger, who lives in rural Ogle County. “We have a September time frame in mind.”

The group broached the idea at the city’s Feb. 18 Planning Commission meeting.

“I think the meeting was positive for us,” Messenger said. “I think they’re open to having the cannabis business in the area. That’s the area they pushed it to when we first started having conversations.” 

A craft grow is a business, licensed by the Department of Agriculture, where marijuana is cultivated, dried, cured, and packaged for dispensaries or processing organizations. Infusion is the process melding another substance, usually an oil, with the flavor and aroma of marijuana, for cannabis edibles.

An ordinance allowing cannabis businesses within the city limits was passed Nov. 26, 3-2; the business would need a special-use permit to launch.

The Tree Pharm initially would bring six to eight full-time jobs, with many as 20 to 25 after the company expands the 5,000-square-foot building to 14,000 square feet. Plants will be grown and housed indoors. Only wholesale sales are planned at this time, which would not produce any sales tax.

Tree Pharm’s business philosophy focuses on wellness and education, and with fighting opioid abuse.

“We want to assist in educational programs for minors,” Messenger said. “We want to implement programs in the county here.”

He and his partners are optimistic about the public hearing and the prospect of obtaining the special-use permit. 

“They’ve already passed an ordinance,” Messenger said. “There could be moral issues, but we fall within the ordinance. It’s the right area. There aren’t other areas like that in Oregon. It’s not by any schools or parks.”

Locations in unincorporated Ogle County, Mt. Morris and Dixon were considered then discarded because of local ordinances, or issues with locations, Messenger said.

“This is where we wanted to be ... The whole group is from here, and we want to bring jobs here.

“It couldn’t have worked out any better.”

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