Illinois medical marijuana cultivation companies expanding facilities

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Cannabis growers across Illinois are expanding operations, despite years of lower-than-expected demand in the state’s medical marijuana pilot program.

The facilities expect more people to gain access to MMJ through a bill awaiting a decision by Gov. Bruce Rauner, the Chicago Tribune reported. The opioid bill would allow medical cannabis to be used instead of prescription painkillers.

The state’s prescription monitoring program tracked 1.5 million opioid prescriptions in the first quarter of 2017, according to data from the Illinois Department of Public Health.

Illinois added nearly 2,400 patients to its medical marijuana program last month, and the move to replace opioids with MMJ ultimately could add tens of thousands of new patients and generate hundreds of millions in additional sales.

Cresco Labs, which owns three facilities in Illinois, is planning to expand its Joliet and Lincoln facilities to keep up with demand from the program’s current participants and future participants that could be added in the coming months.

Cresco employs about 145 people in the state, up from fewer than 60 in January.

Another cannabis company, Chicago-based Green Thumb Industries (GTI), also increased its number of workers by nearly 50% since January and now employs more than 160 people.

The scaling of GTI’s business is funded in part by the $67 million it raised through its listing on a Canadian stock exchange in June. The company also raised $61.6 million in a financing deal that closed earlier this month.

GTI operates growing facilities in Rock Island and Oglesby.

– Associated Press and Marijuana Business Daily