The People's Tribune

Vandalia Considers Addition Of Medical Marijuana Facility

Two Companies Looking For Business Space

City leaders in Vandalia held a meeting last week that was open to the public to discuss the possibility of an interesting new business moving to town.

Missouri recently joined with many other states in the country in allowing medicinal marijuana. This has created the need for cultivation processing plants. Two such operations have their eyes on Vandalia. This could mean many new good-paying jobs and an expanded tax base for the city.

“We had a full house at the meeting,” noted City Administrator Darren Berry. “I went to the churches to invite their memberships and we tried to get the word out about the meeting.”

Officials with Standard Wellness, which is based in Ohio, offered a complete presentation on their operation and what they have planned for Vandalia.

“They gave an outstanding presentation,” Berry remarked. “It was very impressive and very professional. After it was over there were a couple of people who told me they had come to voice their disapproval, but changed their minds after hearing the presentation.”

The company explained the operation is completely inside. They’re looking to either transform a building or construct a 50,000 square-foot facility for the processing plant. They employ a vast security system and use scrubbers so that odor is not a problem when the crop ripens. Berry said company officials noted that residents close to the plant may notice a faint skunk-like odor just during certain times in the cultivation process.

“They said it won’t be anything strong-smelling.”

Furthermore, the company explained they will be employing 50 people and may grow to 100 depending on demand for expansion once in place.

“These are jobs that pay well and have benefits. This is a real opportunity.”

Berry added the community support seems to be there for this operation.

“I think people understand what it could mean for the community even if it’s something they would never have a need to use.”

There is also interest from another similar company that has opted to remain anonymous at this time.

Both companies will have to make an application to the state since Missouri is only going to allow a certain number of operations. Companies can gain an edge for their application if they select an area that is economically depressed and has a high unemployment rate.

Berry noted that Vandalia provides a great deal of points for the companies for their applications.

Standard Wellness has looked at the old one-story garment factory building on Lincoln Street. They have also looked at property just outside of city limits. Berry noted that if such a site is selected, the city will annex the land into city limits. He added that may be an incentive the city provides to entice the company to set up their operation here.

Berry pointed out the company has shown to be a good neighbor in other communities where they have operations. They get involved with the community and offer drug abuse support programs.

The city doesn’t currently have anything in their ordinances regarding medical marijuana cultivation/processing plants so he has started working on that for the Board of Aldermen to discuss.

City officials are working as quickly as the companies, though. The deadline for applications to the state is Aug. 3. Berry pointed out the companies that apply have to pay a $10,000 non-refundable application fee.

“With that much money on the table these companies are serious about all aspects and covering all of their bases,” Berry asserted.

He noted the city would love to snag at least one of the interested operations, though there is a chance the city could gain two plants.

“We would love to gain the jobs,” Berry said. “It’s very exciting and I hope it works out.”

The other company has been invited to attend and present at the city’s board meeting on July 9. They are also based out of Ohio.

“Companies can also gain points on their applications for leasing buildings from the city with an option to buy.”

The deadline for applications is Aug. 3. Berry said the companies and cities involved in the application process should receive notification in December.

It’s important to note what is being addressed is a grow operation and not a dispensary. Berry pointed out those operations will likely set up in more metropolitan areas or near major highways at a minimum.

Berry pointed out there will be more public meetings on the subject and invites residents to attend to learn more about the operations.

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