Chicago businessmen follow promise of medical marijuana

CHICAGO -- Late one Saturday night, Rob Sampson had a confrontation with his 15-year-old daughter about marijuana. But it was his daughter doing the confronting and it was Sampson defending the drug.

Sampson and his wife, after a long night of polishing his new company's applications to grow medical cannabis, returned to their suburban Chicago home to find their daughter waiting up. They hadn't yet told her their business plans.

"She said, 'What is going on?"' Sampson recalled. "'I know something's going on and you guys aren't telling me."'

That's when they had The Talk: a conversation Sampson and his three partners in Chicago-based Cresco Labs have repeated with parents, in-laws and co-workers to explain why they are switching livelihoods and risking millions of dollars to follow the promise of medical marijuana.

Cresco Labs is poised to become the state's largest marijuana grower. It won three cultivation permits, more than...

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