US (IL): First predominantly Black-owned licensed grower opens in Rockford

Inside a cavernous warehouse in Rockford, behind three sets of locked doors, hundreds of tiny cannabis seedlings grow. They are the initial crops cultivated in Illinois by Star Buds, which became the first licensed predominantly Black-owned cannabis business and craft grower to open its doors in the state on the 3de of October.

As a craft grower, the business is severely limited in size compared with existing growers. But its launch also served as inspiration for hundreds of other cannabis business owners in Illinois still trying to get off the ground. “It required persistence,” CEO Victoria Williams said. “I’m so proud to show people that it can be done.”

The corporate entity, SB IL Grow LLC, is two-thirds Black-owned, officials said. It is doing business as partners with Star Buds, an established cannabis company from out of state that had the experience to help get the venture started here.

Star Buds began in Colorado in 2013 and operate cannabis grows and dispensaries in multiple states and countries, including Jamaica. Local co-owner Ahmad Joudeh of Palos Hills, who owned a chain of T-Mobile shops in the Chicago area, had family members at Star Buds and formed a multiracial partnership.

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