Editor’s note: Selling medical marijuana to people with serious illnesses soon will be legal in Illinois. The Sun-Times wanted to see how the process has been working so far in Colorado, a state where it’s already legal to sell marijuana to any adult, and focus on a business there that wants to win one of the coveted licenses to grow marijuana in Illinois. We invite you to follow our series A New Crop for ongoing coverage in words, photos and video on medical marijuana in Illinois.

DENVER — Outside the warehouse, even from the road, the smell is unmistakable.

And once you step inside this unassuming building, across the street from a busy police station in northeast Denver, you can see it, too:

About 6,500 flowering marijuana plants, each about 6 feet high, stretching as far as the eye can see.

The warehouse is one of several in a thriving industrial zone that forms the center of a gold rush for Colorado’s legal weed farmers.

Locals dub it the “Green Mile.”

Along with Washington state, Colorado has been at the forefront of the movement to cash in on legal marijuana.

But now marijuana entrepreneurs in the booming new economy have their eyes on another market — in the Land of Lincoln.

Figures released by Colorado this month suggest medical marijuana sales there are on course to hit $395 million this year.

While direct comparisons are imprecise, if Illinois residents purchase medical weed at the same rate that Coloradans do, the larger market here could be worth nearly $1 billion a year. Some experts, though, believe that’s optimistic because of the limited number of growers and sellers under the Illinois program, as well as tougher

A Colorado company called beMindful that built the vast Denver pot farm and helped lobby for the legalization of …read more