CHICAGO (AP) — Illinois medical marijuana companies are working to expand as they expect opportunities to grow after years of stagnation, given recent legislation to expand access to medical marijuana and the election of a weed-friendly governor.
Cresco Labs, Green Thumb Industries and other Illinois cannabis companies are trying to prepare for an expected growth in the industry, The Chicago Tribune reported . Companies are working to hire employees and ensure products are high-quality and consistent.
With marijuana now legal in Canada, some Illinois companies are finding success securing Canadian investors seeking to dive into the industry.
Green Thumb debuted on the Canadian Securities Exchange in June, becoming the first Chicago medical marijuana company to sell shares of its stock to the public. GTI raised $67 million through its listing, along with an additional $61.6 million in financing.
The company has been able to hire additional workers in the eight states where it operates, expand facilities and acquire more dispensaries. GTI expects to expand its Illinois workforce from about 180 to 270 people by the end of the year.
Cresco, which has three Illinois cultivation centers, hopes to go into the public market soon. The company announced last month that it will merge with Randsburg International Gold Corp, a Canadian company. It’s also raised $100 million in private funding.
The Illinois medical cannabis industry has come a long way just three years after the launch of the state’s pilot program for patients with a small number of medical conditions. Gov. Bruce Rauner signed legislation this summer that expands medical marijuana use to people prescribed opioids. The move expanded medical marijuana to more than 46,000 qualified patients.
Democrat governor-elect J.B. Pritzker has also said that he hopes to legalize and decriminalize cannabis soon after he takes office next year.
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