PRINCETON — The Princeton City Council has thrown the city's hat into the ring in seeking to become a site for a medical marijuana cultivation center.
However, that hat toss was not a unanimous decision.
At Monday's meeting, the council voted 4 to 1 to endorse using a site in the southwest corner of the Princeton Logistics Center as the location for a future medical marijuana cultivation center, if Princeton would get chosen by the state as a facility site. Mayor Keith Cain and Commissioners Ray Mabry, Ray Swanson and Joel Quiram voted in favor of supporting the development, Commissioner Bob Warren voted no.
In presenting the information for discussion, Princeton City Manager Jeff Clawson said the city was recently approached by Largo Meds, LLC about the company's interest in applying for a permit from the Illinois Department of Agriculture to build a medical marijuana cultivation center in the Princeton Logistics Park.
The Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Act became Illinois law on Jan. 1, and establishes program guidelines for the application process, the production and distribution of medical cannabis. The number of cultivation centers is limited by law to one per Illinois State Police (ISP) District.
Princeton is in ISP District 17, which encompasses, Bureau, LaSalle and Putnam counties, Clawson said. Other communities within District 17 have already expressed interest in getting the cultivation center in their communities.
Largo Meds LLC's proposal is to develop and build a 50,000-foot facility in Princeton, specifically in the southwest corner of the city-owned Princeton Logistics Park, located on the north edge of town. That site meets all legal and zoning requirements by the state for the cultivation center, Clawson said.
If successful in obtaining the cultivation center license from the Illinois Department of Agriculture, Largo Meds LLC would intend to produce medical marijuana for sale to state-licensed medical marijuana dispensaries. Largo Meds LLC intends to submit applications in four of the designated Illinois growing districts.
The proposed cultivation center in Princeton would provide about 20-25 new jobs to the area, Clawson said. The developers are offering some incentives to the city for its support. The cultivation center would be regulated and inspected regularly by the ISP. Clawson's recommendation would be to put the city's name into the hat for consideration for the cultivation center.
"This project is another welcome inquiry to expand our economic base,” Clawson said. “The positive feedback from the community and the assets we offer can go a long way to get the attention of the Illinois Department of Agriculture, as they consider which application is appropriate for approval in our area.”
Mayor Keith Cain said he supports the cultivation center for Princeton because it would create new jobs and new revenue for the city. The cultivation center would be located away from schools and residences. A cultivation center will be located somewhere within District 17, and he would like to see Princeton get it, the mayor said.
Commissioner Joel Quiram said he also supports the cultivation center because it could be another revenue source for the city which the city needs. The competition from other communities will be fierce, and Princeton needs to show its support, he said.
Commissioner Ray Swanson said it's been a hard decision for everyone to reach, but he thinks the city needs to think outside-the-box. Other prescription drugs are being manufactured elsewhere, like morphine, and medical marijuana is a weaker drug than some of those, he said.
On the other side of the issue, Warren said he has some reservations about the whole idea.
"Since I was made aware of this, I’ve had a really difficult time coming to grasp with this,” Warren said. “The biggest reason is we spend a lot of money every year on the D.A.R.E. program educating our youth against drugs, be it legal or illegal. I realize the law has changed, and it is OK to have this (cultivation center). But I have a hard time personally squaring this up in my own mind. I realize it could be a great source of revenue for the city. On one hand, why would you turn that down? Morally and ethically, I still have a big question mark in my mind.”
The Illinois Department of Agriculture will review all cultivation center applications during the fourth quarter of 2014 with announcements on the chosen locations to be made at a later date.
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