A cultivation center is under construction in southern Illinois as part of the state's medical cannabis pilot program.
Paul Montes of Wellness Group Pharms says his 27-thousand square foot facility on Lick Creek Road just outside of Anna will be completed in September.
Montes says he chose this location because of the strong support he received from local officials. But, he says the medical marijuana industry has done a poor job of educating the public that this doesn't mean pot is now legal for everyone.
"The perceptions of the general public are completely different than reality, although it is changing. Again in Illinois, people still don't quite understand that it's only a medical program, so it's not a recreational use program. It's a very huge distinction."
Montes says he's excited about the potential for the medical cannabis industry in Illinois. But, he is concerned that only 28-hundred people are currently eligible to purchase it.
"Once there's medicine, patients will start signing up quicker. But, we anticipated, based on national averages, a patient population of Illinois of about 130,000."
He recently spoke to the Union County Economic Development Corporation. Montes says he will employ 25-30 local residents to start. But, he says the plan is for that to expand in the future.
"On our 18 acres, we could go from 27,000 square feet under roof to approximately 250,000.
Thinking big, big, time then we're looking at 180-200 employees. That's down the road, there's a lot that has to happen, but that's the goal."
Montes expects his first harvest to be ready in January.
Earlier this week, Illinois regulators announced the registration of the state's first medical marijuana dispensary went to a company called Harbory out of Marion.