Edgewood residents welcome medical marijuana plant
Stan Polanski photo: Jon Loevy, a partner with Effingham Medicinal Farms, talks with community members about the new medical marijuana facility coming to Edgewood.
While the prospect of getting a medical marijuana cultivation facility seemed to divide Effingham residents last year, Edgewood community members warmly welcomed Thursday just such a facility that is soon to be built in their town.
“I think it’s Effingham’s loss,” Nancy Merritt of Edgewood said during a meet and greet with facility owners. “It’s not going to hurt the community.”
“I think it’s a great opportunity for this small community,” another Edgewood resident, Karla Labitzke, said.
About 60 people listened to company officials describe what to expect from the facility that will be located off Pennsylvania Avenue in Edgewood. They explained that that marijuana will be grown at the facility, and from Edgewood, it will be transported to the nearest dispensary.
Originally, Effingham Medicinal Farms sought to build a plant in Effingham. But the city council turned the plan down and many residents strongly opposed it.
The company then decided to locate in Edgewood, where there are no zoning laws and officials couldn’t keep a medical marijuana grow facility out.
But even if the town could have stopped the project, with so much support shown Thursday, it seems unlikely that would have happened.
“I think the facility is a good thing — especially for jobs in this area,” Amanda Kuhns said, who lives just outside of Edgewood.
Sara Every was at the event Thursday to hear about job opportunities.
“This is a good thing,” she said. “The unemployment rate around here is too high.”
However, the benefits from the marijuana growing plant may not be as dramatic when it’s built this year. That’s because only a small number of conditions qualify Illinois residents for the state’s medical marijuana program.
But, the Edgewood company and some residents say that a big boom could be in store. Jon Loevy, a partner with the company, compared the rise of medical marijuana to the post-prohibition era.
If state legislators open up the marijuana program to more medical conditions, that would create a spike in the drug’s demand, he said.
And if that happens, Effingham Medicinal Farms will be hiring a significant number of people.
“This has the potential to get really big,” Loevy said. “We’re in this for the long haul.”
Stan Polanski can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 217-347-7151 ext. 131.