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home : news : local   October 13, 2015

7/15/2014 8:24:00 AM
Cannabis gold rush is on: Another medical marijuana company eyes Peru

Jeff Dankert
NewsTribune Reporter

Another medical cannabis company made a pitch to the city of Peru to build a growing facility in the city’s north manufacturing area.

The MedFarm, a newly-formed company based in Chicago, presented its intent Monday to the city council to seek a special use permit to build a greenhouse and manufacturing plant on 5 acres of vacant land on the southeast corner of Donlar and Unytite drives, west of Euclid Beverage.

This is the second pitch in a month from a marijuana grower to Peru. On June 30 Agricare LLC, doing business as AgricareLabs, said it was seeking a special use permit from the city to operate at 22 Unytite Drive.

The MedFarm’s president, Jeff Basler, and director of strategic partnerships, Chris Bochenski, said they plan to use a greenhouse and sunlight versus a warehouse with artificial light, to lower electricity cost.

“This isn’t rocket science,” Basler said. “It’s plant genetics. It’s plant biology.”

The new building would have a 40,000 square-foot greenhouse and 40,000 square-foot manufacturing area for growing, processing and packaging cannabis — an estimated 17,000 pounds annually — for shipment by armored vehicle to dispensaries.

It will employ 30-35 initially, at pay scales ranging from $36,000 to $120,000, Basler said.

The MedFarm would harvest dried marijuana flowers and extract oils for infusion into food products such as chocolate, lemon drops, mints and oral spray. The food products give patients the option of not smoking marijuana, Basler said.

The company hopes to be dosage-specific.

“People want to know the dosage they are taking,” Basler said.

Cannabis is recognized as a treatment for 37 medical conditions, he said.

The company plans to research medical uses of cannabis with Northwestern University, Evanston.

The company does not currently operate a facility but is seeking to open grow sites in two other sites in Illinois, Basler and Bochenski said.

The MedFarm plans to purchase the property from Mark Janko, realtor, and Dave Sickley, said Bob Vickrey, Peru community development director.

Three other cannabis growers have indicated they plan to come before the council on July 28, Vickrey said.

Last week Largo Meds LLC indicated it wanted to open a growing plant in the Princeton Logistics Park.

The city passed an ordinance in April to comply with state passage of the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act. The act restricts cultivation centers to 21, one per each state police district. Peru lies in District 17, which includes La Salle, Bureau and Putnam counties. The act also allows up to 60 dispensaries in the state.

Although companies need special use permits from local governments, the Illinois Department of Agriculture will ultimately decide which companies get licenses to grow in each of district, Bochenski said.

Growers anticipate paying the state a $25,000 application fee and showing they have $500,000 in liquid assets and $2 million in escrow, Bochenski said.

Jeff Dankert can be reached at (815) 220-6977 or

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