Iowans will be able to legally buy marijuana for recreational use in Illinois starting January 1st and a Quad Cities medical marijuana grower is preparing to ramp up production and add jobs.

Green Thumb Industries, or GTI, announced plans last year for an $8 million expansion in Rock Island, Illinois. Since then, it’s ballooned to a $17 million expansion, according to Chandler Poole, Rock Island’s Community and Economic Development director. “We might even look at a third expansion down the road,” Poole says. “We are looking at the facility not being just a grow facility but starting to do more research on how to grow better plants, how to extract more efficiently and also how to make products that are much better and more effective.”

A second cultivation building is now under construction in Rock Island which should be completed before the end of the year. The city council approved the initial $8 million plan and this week, green-lighted the expanded $17 million proposal. Poole says the revised agreement will help lower GTI’s property tax bill.

GTI in Rock Island, Illinois.

“What we’re pledging to do is to reimburse GTI up to another $60,000 of the city’s portion of real estate taxes,” Poole says. “What that means is they have to pay all of their taxes, and once they do, we’ll reimburse them the agreed to amount up to $60,000 or two years, whichever comes first.” Chicago-based GTI operates two cultivation centers in Illinois, including the 45,000-square foot, indoor growing facility in Rock Island, which employs about 100 people. The other is located in Oglesby, in LaSalle County.

While Iowans will be able to legally buy quantities of marijuana in Illinois starting in 2020, the law stipulates it will have to be consumed in Illinois. It is illegal to transport marijuana into Iowa — and to use it in Iowa.

(Thanks to Michelle O’Neill, WVIK, Rock Island/Photos courtesy of GTI)