Alvin Parks, the East St. Louis mayor, said he expects construction to begin soon on a proposed medical marijuana farm.
The owner of the East St. Louis site where the farm is supposed to be built is expected later this week to finalize the site’s sale to buyer Progressive Treatment Solutions. Last month it was awarded the state license to grow medical cannabis in the five-county district that includes St. Clair and Madison counties.
Once the sale is completed, the City Council can declare the cultivation center meets city zoning criteria, clearing the way for the center’s construction, Parks said.
“With that, we think we’ll then be able to disclose the location and be able to make sure that we’ll be able to make that declaration, saying, everything’s clear, ready to go,” Parks said.
A St. Clair County judge more than three weeks ago lifted a temporary restraining order that has so far kept the East St. Louis City Council from declaring that the proposed medical marijuana farm conforms to the city's zoning laws.
At a recent hearing, Judge Stephen McGlynn allowed the 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.
A Madison County judge, however, two weeks ago issued a temporary restraining order against the Illinois Department of Agriculture that freezes development of the proposed medical cannabis farm in East St. Louis.
Madison County Judge John Barberis Jr. had issued the restraining order that stops Progressive 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.
Despite the Madison County restraining order still being in effect, Parks predicted confidently that work can begin soon on the new cultivation center.
“One thing for sure is there should be nothing delaying the situation,” he said. “We’re looking forward to a wonderful, wonderful new business venture in East St. Louis to produce new medicine for the state of Illinois.”