Players in Iowa’s tightly-controlled medical marijuana market are looking, some with longing, at Illinois’ new recreational marijuana market, where hundreds of products and potentially millions of customers are expected to generate up to $2 billion in annual sales.
One company with Iowa ties expects to start selling recreational products on New Year’s Day in Illinois.
Acreage Holdings, the parent company of Iowa Relief, which is manufacturing a medical cannabis tincture at a factory in southwest Cedar Rapids, says it will be licensed to sell recreational products at its Nature’s Care dispensary in Rolling Meadows, a Chicago suburb, when Illinois launches its adult cannabis program Jan. 1.
“Our mission is to get safe, affordable cannabis in the hands of anyone who wants or needs it,” said Charles Amadin, Illinois general manager for Acreage, a New Jersey-based company that reports having marijuana licenses in “20 U.S. states and counting.”
Acreage was one of 19 companies included in a Nov. 15 lottery for established pot operators who want to open another store in the Chicago area, the Chicago Sun Times reported. Acreage got an early pick of 31 total selections and chose to locate in the Chicago West District, Amadin said.
In June, Illinois became the 11th state to legalize recreational marijuana. The law, which takes effect Jan. 1, allows people 21 or older to buy cannabis products from licensed dispensaries.
Illinois residents may possess twice the volume as out-of-state buyers to discourage people from taking pot across state lines. Recreational marijuana is illegal in Iowa.
While only companies that already had medical marijuana licenses in Illinois were considered for licenses to sell recreational products starting next week, the state plans to award licenses for up to 75 new dispensing organizations May 1.
More products lead to more customers
Iowa operators say there are financial benefits to operating in a state with a recreational market, which caters to a larger audience and has more products, including pot-infused food and beverages.
Owners of the Iowa Cannabis Company, which has a medical marijuana dispensary in Waterloo, operate three large recreational cannabis stores around Spokane, Wash. Those stores, Cannabis & Glass, sell 2,000 products, including edibles, beverages, vapor, pre-rolled cigarettes, tinctures and creams. Profits from the Washington state stores support the Waterloo dispensary, which so far isn’t making money, said Aaron Boshart, director of operations for Iowa Cannabis.
“No dispensary in Iowa is seeing enough patients to keep them independently funded,” Boshart said.
He and other medical marijuana players in Iowa are critical of Iowa’s law, which caps at 3 percent the tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, allowed in medical marijuana products and limits the medical conditions for which a patient can secure legal products.
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds in May vetoed an expansion of the law that would have removed the THC cap and instead limited the amount of medical marijuana a patient could be prescribed at any one time.
“It’s honestly incredibly sad for the patients of Iowa and, as an operator, it’s incredibly frustrating,” Boshart said.
Boshart would not say whether his company plans to pursue a recreational marijuana license in Illinois. “Licensure is highly competitive,” he said. “We don’t talk about licenses until they are confirmed.”
Medpharm’s major investment in Iowa
MedPharm Iowa, the state’s first medical marijuana manufacturer, has not considered applying for an Illinois license, in part, because its money is tied up in the Des Moines operation, said General Manager Lucas Nelson.
MedPharm, owned by Kemin Industries, spent more than $10 million in 2018 rehabbing 15,000 square feet in an old warehouse into a state-of-the-art facility to cultivate, grow and dry medical marijuana and manufacture products that started to be sold Dec. 1, 2018, in Iowa.
“Even if we wanted to, until this program takes off, this is the way we will be able to grow or expand,” Nelson said. “While I think we’d have a lot to offer a market like Illinois, not from a recreational standpoint, but with medicinal products, the small scope of this (Iowa) program isn’t going to lend itself to that.”
The non-refundable application fee for an early approval cultivation license in Illinois is $100,000, and an approved business must pay 5 percent of total sales, not less than $250,000, to the state. The fee to apply for an early approval dispensing license in Illinois is $30,000 and these stores must pay 3 percent of total sales to the state.
Some operate in both marijuana markets
Nelson said it would be relatively easy for a company to transition from medical to recreational products. Cannabis oils made for creams and capsules could just as easily go into gummies or brownies.
“A lot of it is how you approach your marketing efforts, how you pitch your products,” Nelson said. “If MedPharm was ever to enter a state that was recreational, we’d have the same products and be dosing them the same way, but making them available to a wider audience.”
Acreage Holdings’ website highlights several brands it might sell in Illinois. These include Prime, which appears to be medical cannabis vapes; Live Resin Project, which focuses on cannabis concentrates made from fresh frozen plants; and Natural Wonder, a “lifestyle brand of fast-acting, discreet and effective breath sprays” with cannabis.
The Globe Gazette's most memorable stories of the decade
What a decade it's been, Mason City. Here are some of the most memorable stories we've been a part of in North Iowa over the last 10 years, though really, these only scratch the surface. What will change in another ten years?
Bring on the roaring '20s!
Brandon and Kelsey Hrubes never imagined their lives the way they are now.
A Clear Lake business is standing by Carson King.
Country Thunder Music Festival is making its 2020 debut in Forest City with some of the biggest names in country music.
A North Iowa nursing home is facing two lawsuits filed by the families of residents who say neglect and abuse by staff led to their deaths.
A North Iowa musician who’s spent nearly 30 years on the road performing with some of country music’s biggest stars has returned to his roots.
Tim Schrandt was a cowboy born 100 years too late.
And according to Pete, that wide online support has materialized into a renewed physical presence.
Police have identified the three people found dead in and around a home in Bancroft on July 12.
NORTHWOOD - Several snowmobilers helped rescue stranded drivers across Worth County on Sunday.
MASON CITY | When Elliot Burgos was growing up, he had a special love for trains.
MASON CITY – Aldi in Mason City has reopened with more space and products after a month-long renovation.
MASON CITY | Some of the Samoyeds seized from a puppy mill near Manly last week will be available for adoption soon at the Humane Society of N…
MASON CITY | A Mason City man has been charged with vehicular homicide in a motorcycle crash that killed a Mason City woman in September.
Editor's note: This article originally appeared in the March 17, 2018, edition of the Globe Gazette.
CLEAR LAKE | Dean Snyder liked to tell a story about himself and his beloved wife, Joanne.
A severe thunderstorm walloped North Iowa Monday, May 28, uprooting trees, smashing docks and leaving thousands without power.
MASON CITY | Local authorities prepared for more heavy rain and possible flooding Monday, after Mason City experienced severe flash flooding w…
CLEAR LAKE | A woman was rescued after falling through the ice at a pond in Clear Lake Saturday afternoon, firefighters say.
HAMPTON | Doug and Robyn Pralle of Hampton have started a non-profit to provide free flights for those who need to travel a long distance to r…
CLEAR LAKE | Troy and Carrie Tysdahl of Clear Lake have a little sign on the front door of their home.
This past week has been busy for Kelsey Grimm.
MASON CITY | While many North Iowans were home watching Super Bowl pre-game hype Sunday, about 40 demonstrators gathered in downtown Mason Cit…
MASON CITY | Officials at Mercy Medical Center-North Iowa announced details concerning a new $9.78 million, 27,200 square-foot facility for it…
CHARLES CITY | As a Charles City family prepares to say goodbye to their son, it will welcome several new family members through the gift of o…
FOREST CITY | Two KIOW Radio employees have been fired for making racist comments during a Forest City boys basketball game last week.
MASON CITY — Joseph Donachricha’s dream came true Saturday when he met his hero, country singer Luke Bryan, at UNI.
SHEFFIELD — Megan Hejlik’s 10-year-old son, Ethan, took a photo of his mother holding a sign containing the only information she knows about h…
DES MOINES — There were tears. There were hugs. There were roses. There was jubilation.
MASON CITY — A Mason City man was just one number away from winning a record-breaking Powerball jackpot Wednesday, but ended up winning a $100…
MASON CITY | Jeff Lutcavish had just lost what he thought was about a 4-pounder while fishing Sunday evening. Suddenly, something bigger — muc…
MASON CITY | Five Mason City businesses were scammed for nearly $8,000 in recent weeks, police say.
How low can you go? Mason City High School student Alexis Redeker answered that question on the "Ellen DeGeneres Show" for the program's "Epic…
OSAGE | Teresa Shaw was not going to be swayed from trying to get to the stage as her favorite country-western singer, Garth Brooks, performed…
CLEAR LAKE | A city snowplow driver may have saved the life of an elderly man possibly suffering from dementia who was spotted in the blizzard…
VENTURA | The biggest news story in North Iowa during 2013 took place just two days into the new year when the Mercy Medical Center-North Iowa…
MASON CITY | The picture told the story.
MASON CITY | DNA analysis helped Mason City police and the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation make an arrest in the 1994 murder of 20-mon…
More than seven years after the murder of 5-year-old Evelyn Miller, a suspect was charged in late September with the little girl’s death.
The worst drought since the Dust Bowl affected crops, livestock and more in North Iowa.
Every four years, presidential politics is a part of the North Iowa political landscape, and 2012 was no exception.
A federal discrimination lawsuit by a former Mason City police officer against the city was dismissed in November as a result of a settlement.
Michael Richard Swanson, the teenager accused of gunning down two convenience store clerks in North Iowa in November, has pleaded not guilty t…
The death of a Mason City teenager from natural causes and the death of another teenager from injuries suffered in an accident on Birch Drive …
Many in the public did not agree, and the resulting uproar made headlines around the world.
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