The Illinois Department of Agriculture held a ribbon cutting in Rockford Monday for “Star Buds,” the state’s first cannabis craft grow.
The event took place at its location on Forest View Road, just east of Alpine Road. Star Buds is the first of over 340 licenses given out in the last year to open its doors. Of the 2021 licensing cohort of which Star Buds is part, 67% of those licensees identified as non-white.
Star Buds is par of that percentage, as they are majority Black owned. A member of the IDOA is happy to finally see a grower open, especially after COVID-19.
“So, to finally get though that for an equality company here to get up and running, to be the first in the state, it’s a big deal,” said David Lakeman, division manager for cannabis and hemp at IDOA. “There have been a lot of challenges in this industry. Illinois has been a leader and Star Buds is a leader, Rockford is a leader getting this industry up and going.”
* The Tribune…
Star Buds began in Colorado in 2013, and operates pot grows and dispensaries in multiple states and countries, including Jamaica. Local co-owner Ahmad Joudeh, of Palos Hills, who owned a chain of T-Mobile shops in the Chicago area, had family members at Star Buds, and formed a multiracial partnership.
Another six or so craft cannabis growers — limited to 5,000 square feet of flowering plants — are expected to open in the coming months, with another dozen getting ready behind them. That leaves another 70 craft growers that have yet to get going, along with hundreds of infusers, transporters and retail stores, as many struggle to get funding. […]
The licensing process in Illinois got delayed repeatedly in Illinois due to complications from the COVID pandemic, claims of unfairness in scoring the applications, and lawsuits.
It took Star Buds nearly two years to get a license, then another year to buy and retrofit a warehouse in an industrial park. After previous plans to locate in Aurora went nowhere, officials settled in Rockford, where city officials cooperated to make it happen.
* Northern Public Radio…
“We want to make sure that those who’ve been impacted by the War on Drugs, and law enforcement efforts, the history of cannabis and marijuana, should be able to benefit from the profits that come from this new state program,” said State Senator Steve Stadelman, a Rockford Democrat.
Under the Illinois Adult-Use Cannabis Social Equity Program, businesses may receive further consideration for licensing if 51% of the ownership is made up of people who have been disproportionally impacted by the War on Drugs. The Pritzker Administration has come under criticism for the lack of social equity licenses issued in the growing cannabis industry.
Illinois Department of Agriculture Director Jerry Costello said Star Buds IL, a Colorado-based company, is 66% Black-owned. The state has issued 88 craft grower licenses with 48 designated as social equity applicants. David Lakeman, the department’s cannabis manager, said the Cannabis Regulation and Oversight Office determines an applicant’s demographic qualification for the social equity program.
“Expected revenues in 2023 are $445 million,” Costello said. “That’s a big number. These businesses and those that will follow create 1000s of well-paying jobs across the entire state of Illinois. They generate revenue that’s reinvested directly into impacted communities throughout the state.”