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The Daily Register - Harrisburg, IL
  • Williamson County targeted as location for medical marijuana facility

  • First, it was the city of Marion last month. Now, Williamson County has been targeted as a possible location for a medical marijuana growing facility.
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  • First, it was the city of Marion last month. Now, Williamson County has been targeted as a possible location for a medical marijuana growing facility.
    Much like the Marion City Council, the Williamson County Board was less-than-enthusiastic about the idea.
    County Commissioner Brent Gentry confirmed that representatives of potential growers have approached the County.
    "I have had two persons come to my office in reference to trying to put a facility here," he said. "One of the people was local, and one was up north."
    The state is expected to approve up to 21 of these facilities and private companies will be granted licenses to grow and distribute medical marijuana. Within the next month, the state is expected to draw up criteria for awarding these licenses.
    County Commissioner Jim Marlo estimates the cost of these licenses to be around $250,000.
    In the meantime, representatives of potential growing operations are approaching cities and counties in an effort to identify possible locations.
    The City of Marion revealed last month that it had been approached. That sparked a debate in the City Council about the economic benefits versus moral concerns of hosting a facility.
    The project has the potential to create jobs and generate income for a community. Supporters are quick to point out that the State has sanctioned, and will regulate, this operation.
    County Board Chairman Ron Ellis believes there is an important legal aspect to consider. He noted that it is his understanding that marijuana is still illegal at the Federal level.
    "When I took an oath, I swore to uphold the law," he said. "I don't understand how it is illegal at the Federal level, but in Illinois we are going to turn our head."
    "Who'd ever thought we would even be discussing this?" said Marlo, who added that "I won't give it my blessing."
    Not all counties and communities have shut the door on the idea. For example, Centralia is showing an interest in being a host community.
    No representative have yet requested to appear before the Williamson County Board.

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