Normal looking to build medical marijuana cultivation center

A medical marijuana cultivation center could be coming to Normal soon.

Green Thumb Industries (GTI), a Chicago based company, has leased a building for growing marijuana near Mitsubishi Motors North America in Normal.

The lease is subject to the state’s approval for a license before GTI can begin growing marijuana.

Cultivation centers must be 2,500 feet from any school, day care center  or residential building, so the building there is in conjunction with the rules. The building is 100,000 square feet.

(MCT Campus Photo) Medical marijuana plants grow inside a cultivation center. Normal is hoping to build a cultivation center soon.

(MCT Campus Photo)
Medical marijuana plants grow inside a cultivation center. Normal is hoping to build a cultivation center soon.

Mayor Chris Koos said he suspects GTI is looking at multiple locations throughout the state, in addition to Normal, as possible cultivation

The state law allows one cultivation facility per police district. Bloomington-Normal is in District Six, which includes DeWitt, Livingston and McLean counties.

Ben Kovler, the founder of GTI, says
they are attracted to Normal because of its central location and the successful functionality of its government.

“Illinois is our home and we are dedicated to listening to leaders and residents in Bloomington-Normal to understand how our investment can have the most substantial positive impact in the area,” Kovler said in a GTI news release.

GTI met with local elected officials last week, but they had leased the building before they met with the town.

“GTI was probably making sure there was no governmental pushback,” Koos said.

If they felt resistance from the local government, they probably would have backed out, he added.

Koos said he would not say the town is “in favor” of the cultivation centers, but they are definitely not against it.

“If the company meets all the criteria, then it’s fine with us,” Koos said.

GTI and the town will probably not meet again unless there are code issues, he added.

Koos said he thinks the cultivation center would bring some benefit to the local economy, but not a huge amount.

the local economy, but not a huge amount.

“It would be new ground for the state,” he said.

He estimates the center would bring about 50 to 60 new full-time jobs to the town.

The marijuana plants would have to be grown inside the building. Koos said there are many reasons for this, first being security.

“There would be a more consistent product in a hydroponic greenhouse versus outdoors,” he said.

In addition, they are able to produce the product year-round indoors.

Doug Farr, the architect who designed the uptown Normal redevelopment plan, has been hired by GTI to help with energy efficient designing.

Because the building will need a lot of power, Farr will help keep the business as green as possible.

Koos said he suspects that GTI will look into solar power or wind power. Power of that kind would have environmental and cost saving benefits.

GTI said that they were not interested in a distribution center, where medical marijuana is sold.

But Koos said he thinks there will eventually be one in Normal’s police district.

“We’re the largest in the district. It will likely end up in Bloomington-Normal,” he said.

GTI has not yet applied for the license for the cultivation center because the state is not accepting applications yet. They will begin accepting applications in about a week.

Koos expects the process to be very competitive.

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