Metro-East News

Madison County judge stops development of medical pot farm in East St. Louis

A Madison County judge Friday afternoon issued a temporary restraining order against the Illinois Department of Agriculture that freezes development of a proposed medical cannabis farm in East St. Louis.

Madison County Judge John Barberis Jr. issued the restraining order that stops Progressive Treatment Solutions LLC of West Chicago from starting work on its indoor cultivation center, on the grounds the state agriculture department violated its rules in issuing a license for the company.

The restraining order enjoins Philip Nelson, the state’s acting agriculture department director, from issuing a cultivation license to Progressive, which had failed to secure zoning approval for its undisclosed East St. Louis site under the provisions of the state’s medical cannabis pilot program, according to John Sholar, the head of Madison County Labs, a competing company that requested the restraining order.

“It is clear that Progressive Treatment Solutions did not have zoning within the time frame, which is 60 days after filing the application,” said Sholar, whose firm was one of eight that Progressive had prevailed over in winning the cultivation license for the five-county region that includes St. Clair and Madison counties.

Progressive did not immediately return calls Friday seeking comment. Barberis set a hearing for 9 a.m. March 25 to determine whether to lift the restraining order.

This is the second time in slightly more than two weeks that a county judge’s order has stopped construction of a marijuana farm in East St. Louis by Progressive, which last month was granted the state license to grow medical marijuana at an undisclosed location in East St. Louis.

On March 6, a St. Clair County judge allowed a temporary restraining order to lapse that had kept the East St. Louis City Council from declaring that the same proposed medical marijuana farm conforms to the city’s zoning laws.

Judge Stephen McGlynn allowed his order to lapse after receiving assurances from Mike Wagner, the East St. Louis city attorney, that the city will eventually reveal the farm’s location after Progressive Treatment Solutions finalizes the purchase of land for the indoor cultivation center.

The city will also hold a public hearing in the next month on whether existing city zoning ordinances need to be revised to cover the legal cultivation of medical marijuana, a use of land that was not contemplated when the city’s ordinances were drafted in 1975.