Wednesday, March 11, 2015

White Oak Growers asks court for review of Will County marijuana growing license

By Mary Baskerville

MANHATTAN--When Peter Ford, Ken Salamone, and Steve Maslak of White Oak Growers sought a license to grow medical marijuana on a 34-acre farm in Wilton Center, the men said their background in energy development on the East Coast gave them experience in understanding how to follow government regulations and confidence that their Illinois application met all the requirements.

Earlier this year, the award went to Cresco Labs of Chicago. Cresco also was named to receive the license in two other districts, including Kankakee County.
In a suit filed Wednesday in the Circuit Court of Cook County, White Oak Growers is seeking an injunction to prohibit the Illinois Department of Agriculture from issuing the cultivation center license, and is seeking a court review of the scoring.

Ford said Wednesday that the injunction will allow the courts to “examine the decision making process.”

“There was an expectation that the law—the law of the land would be followed,” Ford said. “The suit claims Illinois set out very specific rules….that were not followed.”

The suit alleges, among other issues, that when the department moved away from scoring security measures on a point basis to a pass/fail basis, the final scores may have been impacted.

White Oak Growers alleges that the Department of Agriculture failed to follow the guidelines it created in granting the license for the three county district formed by Will, Kendall, and Grundy Counties.

Ford said today that the Department of Agriculture has had zero communication with White Oak Growers since the beginning of the year. He said the state did not inform them that the award had gone to another firm.

White Oak Growers’ proposal called for a 40,000 square foot, one-story indoor greenhouse and 30,000 square feet of processing and offices for an $8 to $9 million dollar facility.