Would-be marijuana farmers pledge half of earnings to education

SHARE Would-be marijuana farmers pledge half of earnings to education

Prominent civil rights attorney Jon Loevy hopes to get into the medical marijuana business.

The Chicago attorney, who has taken on Chicago cops accused of police misconduct, is part of a group that wants to open a medical marijuana farm in downstate Edgewood.

“Illinois has created a real opportunity for profits, and a lot of the groups chasing this are hedge funds and private equity firms trying to get rich,” Loevy said. “We see this as an opportunity to reroute millions of dollars to education in Illinois when it’s really needed.”

Loevy and his partners have pledged to give away at least half of their earnings to educational initiatives throughout the state.

Among those plans would be the funding of new charter schools in underserved communities to “improve educational quality,” he said.

Loevy’s partners include Michael Kanovitz, Loevy’s partner at the Loevy & Loevy law firm, and Rich Silverstein, a real estate developer.

They plan to open a $5 million to $7 million, 20,000-square-foot medical marijuana farm in Edgewood, a town of just over 400 people in Effingham County. Like some others who hope to grow marijuana, Loevy and his team want to produce and sell other forms of medical marijuana products, including marijuana-infused edible products.

A trustee in Edgewood, Ervin Yocum, said the town is looking at the proposal as if it were a regular business.

“We need the jobs down here,” said Yocum, who owns the plot of land the cultivation center would be on and would sell it to the group if they get the state license. “It’s a medicine.”

Loevy and his group, which has applied for an agricultural license from the state under the name Effingham Medicinal Farms, is one of four would-be marijuana growers seeking the permit in that district.

In all, the state will award 22 medical marijuana farm licenses and 60 dispensary licenses throughout the state.

Loevy’s group initially sought to build its facility in nearby Effingham, but the town council rejected their proposal.

“We push drug-free in the community . . . we try to teach the kids that and that’s what [my constituents] believe in,” said Effingham Commissioner Don Althoff, who voted against letting the farm into town.

Loevy said he’s eager to get into this new enterprise in Illinois.

“I think the opportunity to be part of a new business is exciting and, more importantly, the opportunity to make such an impact on education funding was very exciting,” he said. “We feel our application is going to be successful. We like our chances, and if it works we’re going to be able to donate millions of dollars to education in Illinois at a time when more funding is really needed.”

State officials have said they will award the licenses before the year ends. More than 350 business applications were submitted to the state in September.

Officials hope to make medical marijuana available early next year to seriously ill Illinoisans who qualify.

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