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Local News

Medical marijuana businesses face stiff competition

Competition for medical marijuana cultivation centers will be fierce in Will, Grundy and Kendall counties.

The state received 14 applications – the highest received in any police district – for cultivation centers in Illinois State Police District 5, according to figures released Thursday by the state. But only one can win out. Will, Grundy and Kendall counties make up ISP District 5.

The medical marijuana law only allows 21 growing center licenses statewide – one per police district – out of the 159 applicants vying to get into the business.

Will County Board Member Tom Weigel, who heads up the board’s Land Use and Development Committee, said land and location may have attracted so many applicants to ISP District 5.

“I’m kind of surprised, but there’s plenty of land in Will County,” Weigel said. “There’s a lot of interest here because of just our closeness to Chicago.”

It’s unclear how applications are split among the three counties.

Curt Paddock, director for the county’s Land Use Department, said five companies expressed interest in unincorporated Will County. However, he couldn’t confirm whether any of those five companies applied to the state. Another two companies have approached the city of Joliet.

Weigel said the high interest shows County Board members made a “good decision” to not require special use permits when zoning for growing centers.

The county did not want to impose too many restrictions. But there was a backlash when Wilton Township residents opposed a proposal in that area.

If unincorporated Will County is indeed chosen, Weigel said it will be a major win for the county.

“I understand they generate some taxes for the local municipality or taxing districts. There’s a large investment of several million dollars to set up such a facility,” Weigel said. “Right now, some of these areas are agricultural and hardly any taxes are being generated, so this would be a big increase for the schools and the different taxing bodies.”

In all, the state received about 370 applicants for cultivation centers or dispensaries. The state received a little more than 200 applications for dispensaries and is expected to grant up to 60 permits.

Ten applied for dispensary permits in Will County.

Statewide, there’s intense rivalry in some regions but little or none at all elsewhere. For instance, there are no applicants vying for dispensary licenses in DeKalb County. Meanwhile, in Evanston and Niles townships, where only one dispensary will be allowed, 15 applicants want the business.

Numbers released Thursday show that some of the stiffest competition is in northern Illinois. In the two police districts in Cook County, there are nine applicants.

• The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Top 5 Illinois State Police districts for cultivation center license applications:

District 5 (Will, Grundy and Kendall counties): 14

District 1 (Carroll, Lee, Ogle, Whiteside counties): 13

District 17 (Bureau, LaSalle Putnam counties: 13

District 10 (Champaign, Coles, Douglas, Edgar, Macon, Moutrie, Piatt, Shelby, Vermilion counties): 11

District 6 (DeWitt, Livingston, McLean counties): 10

Top 5 districts for dispensary permit applications:

DuPage County: 23

Evanston and Niles townships: 15

Kane County: 14

Elk Grove and Schaumburg townships: 12

Leyden, Norwood Park and Proviso townships: 12

(Will County had 10 applications; Grundy County had 3)

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