The statement may not have been so surprising had the discussion at the Hamilton City Council meeting Monday been on a different topic. Or perhaps it would have made even less sense had it been a traditional meeting. Yet, in many ways the meeting was a unique one no doubt.
“I’ve never done pot in my life. Never smoked pot in my life. I’m 50 years old. That’s not why I’m getting into this”
The statement appeared innocuous enough, were it not for the fact that the individual expressing it was addressing the council with the intent to attain permission to move forward with placing a Marijuana dispensary in Hamilton.
Mark Krogman and Jeff Wilson are businessmen from Quincy who own holdings in Western Illinois and Northeast Missouri. Krogman has dealt extensively in audio and cellular technology while Wilson owns several gaming establishments as well multiple truck stops.
The two are now embarking on a new endeavor. Monday they spoke to the Hamilton City Council for roughly an hour about how they would like to apply to the State of Illinois to gain a license to open a dispensary Hamilton which is located in the state’s Midwest region. According to Krogman, the goal for the group is to open their first dispensary in Hamilton for geographic reasons.
“We picked Hamilton for a very strategic reason. You’re a border city with access to both Iowa and Missouri. We also wanted to work in a small community that could use the extra tax revenue. We think we have a better shot here with approval from the State of Illinois.”
The Quincy native also highlighted the potential benefits to the city if the Marijuana sales facility were approved.
“If we’re allowed to bring the retail Cannabis facility to your city, we would look to bring eight to ten jobs”
According to Jeff Wilson, these jobs would be above average jobs as he went on to state that one of the positions that would be required to be a registered pharmacist to account for inventory.
That led to a discussion on the safety and security steps that Illinois requires facilities to have in place before they open when the legalization of recreational marijuana goes into effect on January 1st, 2020.
“These facilities, when you create one, you create like almost a bank vault. You have high-tech surveillance on everything. Everyone is vetted closely and they wait in a holding room before they are cleared to purchase”, Krogman stated.
Wilson also explained that every person who purchases cannabis at the facility is entered into a database and that any mistake made by the dispensary comes with a hefty penalty.
“We want to do this the right way. The fines and regulations from the State of Illinois involve a $25,000 to $50,000 fine for any mistake that is made. Cataloging or anything. We just can’t afford that.”
Hamilton Councilperson Debbie Summers asked if it would be similar to Colorado or California where people can smoke at the facility and you see people smoking on the street. Wilson explained that Illinois law only allows for dispensaries where people can come and purchase Marijuana but they must then take it to private property to consume.
The most staggering information came from Wilson, who already operates five medical Marijuana facilities in Missouri.
“By looking at consultant projections, from the time we open the door we should be doing $100,000 to $200,000 per month in revenue. By month 24, we should roughly be between $3 Million and $5 Million per year.”
Hamilton Mayor Walter Sellens questioned Krogman and Wilson on where the Federal Government stood on this issue to which Wilson explained that he has met with federal and state officials roughly a week ago.
“Their philosophy is that they’re not going to get involved. They want to get into this at a federal level and figure out how they can tax this. They do feel that they need to have the right people in office.”
Sellens then asked if the council says no to this today but change their mind tomorrow, if they would be out of the picture. Wilson responded that they could still get in but often the first companies to get in turn a profit quickly while everyone who gets in later may suffer. Wilson also cited the fact that they are looking to get in on the first round of licensing for 2020 and that application is due on December 10th, 2019. Only three new total licenses will be allocated to the Midwest Region of Illinois for 2020 and that area includes Macomb and Quincy, with the latter already having several Medical Marijuana facilities. The state will distribute 110 total licenses in 2021 and 150 in 2022 and Krogman stated they would intend to apply again if they don’t receive one in 2020.
Cost is also a factor for Krogman and Wilson as they have stated that getting licensed to sell Cannabis in Illinois comes with considerable costs.
“There is a huge application process. It’s very expensive because we have to have consultants and attorneys involved and the application itself is 300-600 pages.”
Wilson piggybacked on that sentiment stating that often the attorneys alone cost the businessmen about $600 per hour.
Councilman Dave Bierbaum heads the Health and Safety Committee and he asked the two when they would need an answer by in the form of a city ordinance. Krogman and Wilson stated that now that they are not even allowed to turn in their application until December 10th, they would like to allow the council to discuss it among themselves. Ideally, Krogman stated, the council would get back to them by the end of the month.
On Bierbaum’s advice, the council elected not to take any action on the dispensary ordinance, effectively tabling it, until the Health and Safety Committee meeting that was set for Monday October 14th at 6:30PM.