Perhaps one of the most genius marketing minds to ever work in the brewing industry hopes to get involved with the business of medical marijuana once Illinois announces the victors of the state’s cultivation and dispensary licenses. Mara “Mitch” Meyers, who was hired by Anheuser-Busch in the 1980s to oversee the launch of Bud Light, no longer sells beer to college kids with her creation of a party animal by the name of Spuds MacKenzie; instead she has plans to sell weed to dispensaries across Illinois.
Although Meyers is still waiting for word from the Illinois Department of Agriculture on whether her company, Nature’s Care, will handle the pot cultivation in the southwestern portion of the state, her crew is prepared to pour the foundation for a 14-acre cultivation operation in St. Clair County. “We would get started immediately,” Meyers told The Belleville News Democrat, because the pilot program requires licensees to have a pot crop in the ground within six months.
“We will have that greenhouse up and operating in four to five months and growing plants,” she added. “And while that is occurring, we will be building the processing building that will be attached to it. I would say within seven months we could be shipping our first product to the dispensary.”
While it is apparent that Meyers had something special when it came to turning beer brands into household names, the 58-year-old “mother of Bud Light,” as she has been labeled, never really had any aspirations of joining the marijuana industry. However, that all changed after spending some time in Colorado. “When I saw what’s going on out there, and I saw the medical happening, and I actually know people that have used it successfully in various ailments and treatments, it’s like, ‘OK, there’s something real about this,’” she said.
As real as it may be, applicants interested in getting involved with medical marijuana in Illinois were forced to cough up a substantial chunk of change for a chance to get involved: a $25,000 non-refundable application fee, which turns into first-year fee of $200,000 for all approved cultivation licenses, followed by a $100,000 annual fee for every year thereafter. In addition, licensees must also provide proof of financial responsibility with a $2 million surety bond.
The state was expected to release the names of its permit recipients before the end of 2014, but as of Friday, January 2, 2015, no action had been taken.