ST. CLAIR COUNTY, Ill. - A vote Monday night was the first step toward turning a small Illinois farming community into the marijuana capitol of St. Clair County.
The St. Clair County Zoning Board approved a special use permit for the site in Marissa, but the decision lies with the state. Eventually, there will be 22 cultivation centers total and about 60 dispensaries. There will be one cultivation center for every Illinois State Police district.
The center in Marissa, if approved, would be the only grower in St. Clair, Bond, Madison, Monroe and Clinton counties. Right now it's just a field, next to a rural highway outside of Marissa, but with county and state approval, this could be the site of a medical marijuana cultivation center.
"This is medicine, nothing is going to be sold or snuck out the back door of this facility it's highly regulated, it's taxed, a lot of eyeballs on this," said Mitch Meyers with Nature's Care.
She and her local company would run the one-acre greenhouse on a heavily secured 13 acre plot. The St. Clair County Zoning Board approved their special permit and with the county council's approval, Meyers will apply to the state.
"It's a very ominous application process it's probably 800 to 1,000 pages, you have to have everything worked out," she said.
Meyers explains they would grow marijuana and make things like baked goods. They would hire 30 people and pay for two extra sheriff's deputies to patrol.
Neighbor Rick Buckholz has faith in the security.
"They will be real watchful of it," he said.
Buckholz says the community of Marissa needs this.
"Good business for here and help bring some jobs in and it's a good place because it's out of the way in the county," said Buckholz.
Just down the road, Rod Stevens says he says he's not necessarily against the cultivation center, just worried about the long term effects.
"If things don't work out of they grow and move on, we would like to see everything put back where it is," said Stevens.
St. Clair County Council will vote on the zoning board's recommendation on July 28. Meyers says they are not the only center in the district applying, just the only one in St. Clair County.