Medical Pot Permit Delay Puts Businesswoman On ‘Pins And Needles’

By Mike Fitzgerald
Belleville News-Democrat.

Medical marijuana entrepreneur Mara “Mitch” Meyers, of Edwardsville, had hoped to celebrate the New Year with a state-issued permit that would allow her to start construction on a $6 million state-of-the-art greenhouse and processing plant outside Marissa.

But now, like the 158 others who have applied for medical cannabis cultivation permits under the state’s four-year pilot program, Meyers must still wait an undetermined amount of time before the state finally issues the licenses.

The state had set Dec. 31 as its deadline. But, without explanation, still had not issued any permits as of Friday. The uncertainty is making it hard for entrepreneurs such as Meyers, who got her start as a marketing ace with beer giant Anheuser-Busch.

“I’m on pins and needles,” Meyers said. “I can’t even leave my house because we don’t even know how we’re going to be notified.”

Meyers said she wanted to give the state the benefit of the doubt on the grounds that the state needs more time to review the voluminous, highly detailed applications that applicants for the 21 cannabis and 60 dispensary permits statewide have submitted.

“I am choosing to believe that it’s because they’re doing the right thing and really looking at all of these applications and checking into the background of these people — that it is taking longer,” Meyers said.

Shelia Porter, a spokeswoman for the Illinois Department of Public Health, said Friday no reason has been given for the delay in the issuing of permits.

“It’s not clear right now,” Porter said. “I just know they’re still doing their comprehensive review.
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That’s all I can share right now.”

Meyers’ firm, Nature’s Care, is one of nine applicants who have filed to open a medical marijuana cultivation center in District 11, which covers St. Clair, Madison, Clinton, Bond and Monroe counties.

The Illinois Department of Agriculture had expected to announce the 21 winners of the cannabis cultivation licenses — one for each Illinois State Police district, except one — by the end of December, as well as the winners of permits for the 60 medical cannabis dispensaries allowed under the pilot program.

Gov. Pat Quinn signed legislation July 20 that added adults and children suffering from seizures to be able to use prescribed medical marijuana. The law also allows children under 18, with a parent’s consent, to be treated with non-smokable forms of medical marijuana for the same conditions now available to adults.

The St. Clair County Board in July gave the green light for a medical marijuana farm to be located near Marissa. The proposal was the first to be considered in the metro-east and would sell cannabis in dried “bud” form and as edible products.

Nature’s Care, the $6 million grow center that Meyers wants to build, would grow up to 15 strains of cannabis in a greenhouse attached to a 20,000-square-foot building. The building would include a commercial kitchen to make the edible products, such as cookies, hard candies and drinks.

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