Karuna Ventures, a New Jersey-based company that has been trying to open a recreational cannabis dispensary in Forest Park since 2019, is poised to open a cannabis product business — but company CEO Michael Cardozo and Mayor Rory Hoskins have been mum on the details, including where it would be located.
Hoskins announced Karuna’s plans during the May 22 village council meeting, at the tail end of the Mayor’s Report. The announcement comes after years of radio silence from Karuna. While the company was able to get the cannabis infuser license in 2021, it eventually obtained a craft grower license, which would allow it to grow cannabis using a small-batch production method, and a dispensary license, which will allow Karuna to sell the products.
In the interview following the meeting, Hoskins mentioned that it would be a unique set-up operating out of shipping crates, and he expects it to open “sometime in June,” but he declined to give the location. Cardozo confirmed the plans to open the infusion center, but he declined to comment on the specifics, including whether there would be shipping crates. He also declined to comment on the timeline for the opening.
Cannabis infusers put the oil from the plant in products In August 2022, the Illinois Department of Agriculture issued a compliance alert specifying that those products must be “beverage, food, oil, ointment, tincture, topical formulation, or another product containing cannabis or cannabis concentrate that is not intended to be smoked.”
“This means that an infuser organization cannot manufacture or process cannabis into pre-rolls or cannabis concentrate into vape cartridges,” it stated.
The notice also specified that cannabis infusers can’t extract the oils themselves — the oils must come from a licensed cultivation center of a craft grower. Since Karuna has a craft grower license, it could potentially be able to make its own oils. But because it doesn’t have a dispensary license, it still wouldn’t be able to sell its own products.
According to the Illinois Department of Agriculture’s list of active licenses, Karuna’s craft grower and dispensary licenses are both for the same industrial space at 1401 Circle Ave.
Cannabis businesses are allowed by right in industrial districts and as a conditional use in B-2 business districts. While the village allowed dispensaries to go in by right on Madison Street, other types of cannabis businesses, including infusers and craft growers, are still not allowed there.
During the May 22 meeting, Hoskins announced Karuna’s plans without going into details.
“This company is going to be an infusion company, and they’re about ready to locate in Forest Park, and they’ll be locating in our boundaries within the next month from now,” he said. “They want to hire locally.”
When originally reached by phone, Cardozo said that there were still zoning issues that had to be sorted out, and he didn’t want to comment until he was sure he had all the facts correct. When the Review checked back closer to deadline, he said he would e-mail a statement, and that Karuna will “comment on the specifics of the business at the appropriate time.” He declined to share when he expects the infusion business to open.
“Karuna Ventures is excited about the opportunity to open a business in Forest Park; it is a great place for us to locate,” he stated. “We will be looking to hire locally whenever possible and look forward to being a part of the business community once we complete the necessary requirements.”