Suburbs squeeze medical pot firms for cash donations

Those who want in on Illinois’ fledgling medical marijuana industry are wooing local communities to let them operate within their borders — in some cases promising donations to local organizations or a cut of the profits.

Monday is the deadline for businesses to apply for state licenses, and among the many provisions for potential operators is that they have local approval for a place to grow or sell medical cannabis and can point to “community benefits.”

Competition for approved sites has gotten so intense that some municipalities are requiring that businesses pay them a cut of their revenues if they want local support.

In Elk Grove Village, no fewer than nine competing businesses have entered into preliminary agreements with the municipality. Should any win state approval to operate, the businesses each have agreed to donate up to $75,000 to local nonprofit groups and to fork over up to 5 percent of their gross sales to the village.

Elsewhere in the Chicago area, developers are offering special contributions to get local support — inverting the more typical practice of local governments offering incentives to lure businesses to town. One suburb is even creating its own charitable foundation to collect and spend the cash infusion.

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Author: Aronov