ANNA, Ill. (KFVS) - Licensed marijuana cultivation centers across Illinois are hard at work, all in preparation for the legalization in January.
One facility in Anna, Ill. is planning to expand, which means more jobs in southern Illinois.
Steve Bundy is the general manager of Aeriz (Arise) Illinois, prior to that role, he served as a state trooper for Illinois State Police.
Throughout the building, crews work to prepare the facility for the changes at the beginning of the year.
“We’ve got a big construction project going on right now," Bundy said.
Right now, Aeriz employs 40 to 45 people. They are looking to grow their staff 100 people by summer 2020.
“January first is going to be a whole new ball game,” Bundy said. “The staff at the center ranges from levels of education and experience, to different industries. Law enforcement, Agriculture, Science, Business, Food Sanitation and more.”
Aeriz Illinois, also known as Wellness Group Pharms, is one of 10 licensed cultivation centers the Illinois department of agriculture approved to grow cannabis for adult-use.
“There’s one cultivation center per Illinois state district,” Bundy said. Aeriz is in ISP District 22. The other cultivation center near the SIU Airport is in ISP District 13.
Their facilities are business-to-business. They sell to more than 50 dispensaries in Illinois. Aeriz sells the bud, the vape cartridges, wax, and full spectrum hash oil for those that have no desire to smoke.
Local dispensary Thrive is also one of the partners.
“We do all the trimming, we do the bottling and all the packing...And we also do extraction here.”
In October, the city of Anna unanimously approved the sale of cannabis, but Bundy said he knows there are still nay-sayers.
“Most of their arguments are things we hear before about medical...And now they are saying it about adult use and they are just not true,” he said.
Bundy believes the negative stigma is going away, but the industry still has a long way to go.
“It’s still illegal federally...And that would be a big relief on all of us if they changed that," he said.
"We're a good employer adding a bunch of good paying jobs...I think more and more people are going to see us as just another business."
That cultivation center plans to expand by also building another facility on the same lot in the near future.