SPRINGFIELD — Four companies have been awarded licenses to grow and sell medical marijuana in Joliet and Will County, according to an announcement Monday from Gov. Bruce Rauner's administration.
In all, Rauner awarded 52 licenses to grow and sell medical marijuana in Illinois, including Cresco Labs, LLC, a company that has targeted a Joliet site to operate a marijuana growing center.
“That's great news,” Joliet Mayor Tom Giarrante said upon hearing about the announcement Monday evening.
Cresco Labs, LLC will be the designated growing center for Illinois State Police District 5, which includes Will, Grundy and Kendall counties. Fourteen companies had applied.
3C Compassionate Care Center — a Naperville-based company — was awarded a license for its selling operation in Rock Run Business Park in Joliet.
Robert Livas, who retired as a Will County judge in October, is one of 3C's directors. His daughter Traci Fernandez, who has transverse myelitis, which has left her paralyzed from the chest down, will operate the company alongside Livas, Hugo Fernandez and Kathy Tucker.
Livas said he was stunned by Monday's announcement.
"I feel like an Oscar nominee who wasn't expecting to win and has no idea what to say," Livas said. "My daughter called me and I thought it was a joke."
Because cultivation operations and dispensaries will receive final approval at the same time, Livas said it will take some time before dispensaries have product on hand to sell.
"We're very grateful to Mayor Giarrante, the City Council and Larry Walsh Sr. I think the letters of official support made a difference," Livas said.
Midwest Compassion Center in Shorewood and Greenhouse Group, LLC, in Manteno, were also selected to operate dispensaries. Greenhouse Group, LLC also was awarded a license for a dispensary that will be shared between Grundy and Kendall counties.
Rauner's announcement comes soon after Gov. Pat Quinn left office last month without issuing licenses, saying the agencies in charge had completed much of the work and that Rauner's new administration should finish out the process. Rauner questioned the selection process, and once called the process “rigged,” and subject to cronyism.
Rauner's legal team reviewed Quinn's selection process, concluding that some applicants were disqualified without clear procedures and therefore will require further review.
"Any applicant that was recommended for disqualification will be fully informed of the basis for that decision, given an opportunity to respond," Jason Barclay, general counsel for Rauner, said in a written statement.
Giarrante said he was initially dead-set against legalizing medical marijuana, but has since changed his mind.
“I was totally, totally against it,” he said. “But I had very good friend with incurable cancer and he completely changed my mind. He was in so much pain and the only thing that gave him any kind of relief was marijuana.”
• Herald-News reporter Brian Stanley contributed to this report.