HUNTLEY – A Batavia resident wants to turn Huntley into one of the state's first destinations that would support marijuana cultivation – if the illicit drug ultimately becomes legal for medical use in Illinois.
Samuel Franzmann approached Huntley Village Board members during a committee meeting Thursday with the proposition of building a cultivation center that would mass produce marijuana for "sick and dying individuals" to have a better quality of life.
Franzmann told members that he is looking for villages and cities around the Chicago area interested in housing one of the few cultivation centers that would be allowable under a bill awaiting Gov. Pat Quinn's signature that would legalize medical marijuana.
"I want to make sure that I get my foot in the door and start talking to people to make them realize that I'm not some crook or drug lord trying to encroach on small town Huntley," Franzmann said.
Franzmann introduced himself to the board as a business owner with small business experience. He later said he works for Hinsdale Orthopedic doing information technology work.
Local governments are allowed to devise individualized zoning regulations that would govern any potential marijuana cultivation center, under the medical marijuana bill that cleared both houses in Springfield earlier this spring.
The bill allows people with debilitating conditions to receive 2.5 grams of marijuana every two weeks with a doctor's prescription. It would create 22 cultivation centers scattered throughout the state that would supply marijuana to 60 dispensaries.
Quinn has not indicated whether he would sign it.
Franzmann's proposition surprised many Huntley officials who are more accustomed to meeting with housing and restaurant developers privately before publicly revealing economic development plans.
Village Manager Dave Johnson said staff has been reviewing the legislation to figure out the proper ways to structure zoning regulations for medical marijuana growers. But he was uncertain whether the village would want to work with Franzmann and bring a center to Huntley.
"Certainly, it isn't anything that we have sat around and thought about attracting to our community," Johnson said.
A person interested in developing a cultivation center would have to apply for a license with Illinois agriculture department. The department has already started to receive calls from interested cultivators, even though medical marijuana is not yet legal in the state, a department spokesperson said.
On Thursday, village trustees offered no reaction to Franzmann's unconventional proposal, with the exception of Trustee Niko Kanakaris.
"Did you bring any samples?" Kanakaris said to laughter from the other trustees.