WIUM Tristates Public Radio

Illinois' Medical Marijuana Crops Readying for Harvest

Sep 11, 2015

In late July, Revolution Enterprises cut the ribbon on its sprawling 75,000 square foot facility in the Central Illinois town of Delavan. Company CEO Tim McGraw told supporters the facility's goal is to change the way cannabis is administered, along with selling products to distributors.

“New delivery methods, new medicines, to continue to study cannabis, because it hasn’t been since the early 1930s, cannabis research has essentially been handcuffed. Well, the handcuffs are coming off with this facility,” McGraw said.

But he said for that to happen, the company is first focusing its energy on finishing construction work, loading equipment, and putting the final touches on the $20 million building.

“This is not some hippies growing pot in their backyard or in a hoop house somewhere. These are the most scientifically-advanced and sophisticated cultivation facilities in the world.  We take this very, very seriously,” McGraw said.

He said the massive facility will eventually produce medical cannabis plants, extracts, oils, and new ingestible and wearable options such as patches and other methods he says he can’t talk about.   

Dan Batzel, Director of Chemistry for Revolution Enterprises, said the Delavan facility has all the intricate lab equipment, a team of food scientists, and a professional kitchen area to put a dose of medical marijuana into edible products.

“You know, it’s easy to say brownies because they’ve been traditional.  But we can contemplate powders, powdered-drink mixes, tapioca pearls, really we have to sit down with physicians and see what types of dosage forms they think would be best for the patient,” Batzel said.

The center aims to gather up its first harvest for research in October, with a limited release of products in November. A Revolution Enterprises spokesman said the company plans to have about 40 employees working in that same timeframe. 

Liz Skinner is the Mayor of Delavan, a town of about 18-hundred people south of Peoria. She said apart from area schools, the plant, is now the largest employer in the small Central Illinois community:

“It really is a big deal. It means jobs and hopefully additional rooftops, financial support for our school district as well as our city,” Skinner said.