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Rantoul village trustees will vote on cannabis craft grower proposal

Water tower, located just outside downtown Rantoul, Illinois.

RANTOUL – The Rantoul Village Board has agreed to vote next week on whether to allow a cannabis growing operation to open in the village.

Rantoul trustees agreed to take the vote after hearing a new presentation Tuesday night from Blake Schilb.  The Rantoul native and former professional basketball player made his first proposal for an indoor cannabis growing operation in Rantoul back in 2021, with hemp grower Dane Ehler as a business partner. He later appeared before the village board a second time, only to have trustees reject his request to lift Rantoul’s 2019 ban on cannabis-related businesses.

This time, Schilb, and a new business partner, William Moss, emphasized the facility’s tight security, required by the state, and the jobs it would create for the Champaign County village.

“And this is modest, but we’re expecting over thirty-plus career jobs within three years, between growers, manufacturers, administrators, computer programmers, marketers, coders,” said Moss, who emphasized that many of the jobs would not include any direct contact with cannabis.

Rantoul Trustee Terry Workman told Schilb that many residents fear allowing the growing operation would lead to more cannabis being sold and used  in the village.

“If you set this up, are you at some point down the road going to push us to change the ordinance on a dispensary?”, Workman asked.

“No sir,” Schilb answered. “No sir, and You have my word on that.”

The village board also heard from several Rantoul residents who opposed the project — saying the village needed to attract more wholesome family-oriented businesses instead.

Rev. David Allison of Rantoul Church of the Nazarene was one of seven speakers Tuesday night who voiced concerns that the growing operation would lead to more cannabis circulating in the village.

“We should not make this addictive and harmful practice more accessible,” said Allison. “Please consider the cost to the community, over the additional revenue that it might bring in. I fear we’ll pay dearly in the future, in dysfunctional family situations, more and more difficult adverse health effects, and negative societal strain.”

Village trustees are expected to take up Schilb’s cannabis craft grower proposal at their next regular meeting on Tuesday, May 9. The meeting will begin at 6:00 p.m. at the Rantoul Village Hall, 333 South Tanner Street.

Jim Meadows

Jim Meadows

Jim Meadows has been covering local news for WILL Radio since 2000, with occasional periods as local host for Morning Edition and All Things Considered and a stint hosting WILL's old Focus talk show. He was previously a reporter at public radio station WCBU in Peoria.

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