RiNo firm bankrolls $6M marijuana facility in Ill.

AmeriCann's working design for the Illinois facility. Image courtesy of AmeriCann.

AmeriCann’s working design for a Denver facility. Image courtesy of AmeriCann.

A Denver company that builds marijuana greenhouses is branching out to Illinois and has set its sights on Massachusetts.

RiNo-based AmeriCann Inc., which designs and finances grow operations, is planning a 285,000-square-foot Illinois Medical Cannabis Center (IMCC). The complex will be able to produce 50,000 pounds of pot per year.

The project will cost $6 million, AmeriCann CEO Tim Keogh said.

“We’re excited to be moving forward in Illinois and to professionalize the cannabis industry,” Keogh said.

AmeriCann will only be responsible for the facility; it doesn’t grow or cultivate marijuana.

“We provide the infrastructure and the support for licensed operators in a regulated market,” Keogh said.

Illinois-based Wellness Groups Pharms will be responsible for maintaining and harvesting the plants housed in the IMCC. Illinois-based Icon Construction Services LLC is the general contractor.

Because bank funding for marijuana-related operations is still risky, all of AmeriCann’s investors are private individuals.

“A lot of investors with us and others in the industry are those who see the potential of the burgeoning market and who aren’t adverse to the risks associated with it,” said Jane Austin, AmeriCann’s accounting and business manager. “The main obstacle in this industry is the federal restrictions on the banking industry.”

The IMCC will remain property of AmeriCann. In return for using the facility, Wellness Groups Pharms will pay AmeriCann an annual flat fee of $20,000 per month for consulting and $6 per square foot in rent, Keogh said.

AmeriCann will also design a line of pot-infused products that Wellness Groups Pharms will produce and sell. AmeriCann will receive 25 percent of Wellness Groups Pharms’ cannabis sales and 20 percent of cannabis extracts and edible sales.

Construction of the building will start this month and be completed in phases. The first phase, about 27,000 square feet, will be operational in late summer, and the first batch of marijuana will be harvested this fall.

Wellness Groups Pharms received one of 18 marijuana cultivation licenses issued by the Illinois Department of Agriculture. Only 10 percent of applicants received such a license.

The facility will be located in the town of Anna in southern Illinois. It is expected to employ 175 people.

AmeriCann’s Illinois facility is coming on the heels of its design for a similar complex in Denver.

AmeriCann purchased a parcel of land at Interstate 70 and Monaco Parkway last July on which it intends to build another grow operation. The project is currently awaiting permit approval from the city and county of Denver, Keogh said.

That facility will include a 90,000-square-foot greenhouse and a 30,000-square-foot processing area for harvested cannabis. The project will cost between $6.5 million and $7.5 million, and AmeriCann is aiming for cultivation by the beginning of 2016, Keogh said.

The facility will employ between 50 and 60 staff members once it begins operation.

“When we’re ready to go Denver, we’ll raise capital specifically around that project,” Keogh said.

We’re looking at this to be a proof-of-concept for utilizing traditional horticultural practices in the cultivation of cannabis.”

AmeriCann plans to continue building similar sites in other states as medical marijuana licensing becomes more widespread. On Jan. 14, the company announced its intent to buy a nearly 52-acre plot in Massachusetts. The price of the sale has been negotiated and it is likely to close on June 1, Keogh said.

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