Rock Island readies for medical marijuana vote

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Rock Island aldermen are poised to approve plans to grow medical marijuana within city limits on Monday night.

That's why this corn field off Andalusia Road could soon be featuring another cash crop. Chicago-based Green Thumb Industries wants to buy just over 10 acres for $135,000. It would build a marijuana growing facility.

"It's a difficult site to get to," said Rock Island Mayor Dennis Pauley. "It's a difficult site to sell. It's perfect for them, and it's perfect for us."

The company plans to build a 30-80,000 square foot facility. It expects to create 30-100 new jobs.

"It's a perfect crop," said Cole El-Saleh, outside a Rock Island eatery. "It's easy to grow. It's a wonderful product."

"As far as adults who are prescribed this, if it's going to be beneficial, I'm all for it," added Michael Harris, Rock Island.

Rock Island expects medical marijuana to expand the tax base and use vacant land. It will also create jobs and support the business park.

"I think it would be a great investment for the community, especially if we can start getting that through and taxing it," said Shawn Fontes, Rock Island.

Nearby Moline is in very preliminary talks to create a medical marijuana dispensary.  It could be located in the former Holland Jewelers building near SouthPark Mall.

"There's 22 sites, and the cities are clamoring for them," Mayor Pauley concluded. "If we have an opportunity to get one, we should do it."

Even if the vote passes, medical marijuana likely won't be available in Illinois until early 2015. Only qualified patients will be able to get it every two weeks.

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