Interest for Possible Medical Marijuana Sites

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By Stephanie Tyrpak
By Jared Roberts

PERRY CO. -- There's growing buzz about medical marijuana in southern Illinois. Investors are eyeing spots across our region for the new pilot program.

It will likely be next year before the first patients are able to fill medical marijuana prescriptions in Illinois. However, some groups are already hard at work looking at the business potential.
 
The Department of Public Health says the applications don't exist yet, and the agency doesn't expect to receive those applications until September.
 
Some communities are trying to be proactive. They're having a conversation about medical marijuana before those licenses are handed out.
 
The Heartland Baking Company in Du Quoin closed in 2011. The empty factory is now one rumored site for medical marijuana.
 
Du Quoin Mayor Rex Duncan hasn't heard of any official projects. The city council still decided to take a closer look at the issue.
 
"You know was the council on board with moving something like that forward?" said Duncan. "And the answer we got was unanimous yes."
 
The city is home to State Police District 13 Headquarters. The state's medical marijuana law allows for one growing center in each police district.
 
"The closer you are to a state police headquarters that might be a target for that kind of development," said Duncan. 
 
Duncan and others on the city council discussed the pros and cons. Plus, they talked over how they might treat other investors looking to bring a legal product to town.
 
"A major pharmaceutical company came to Du Quoin and said we want to build a factory that will manufacture Oxycontin," said Duncan. "Would we welcome that? And I think the answer is yes."
 
Four state agencies are tasked with putting together the medical marijuana pilot program. Right now, those agencies are still reviewing the rules and comments. They'll also need to create the application. It could be 2015 before the program is up and running.
 
Duncan believes Du Quoin will have to wait and see how the projects play out.
 
"We feel like we're in a good position to be competitive for one of those locations," said Duncan. 
 
Mayor Bob Butler of Marion says he's had a few people stop by city hall to talk about the idea of bringing medical marijuana there.
 
Carbondale has also seen some interest. A handful of people have called or emailed to see if the city would be open to the idea and if certain property would meet zoning laws.
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