Lake Wales, Florida -- A small city in Polk County may soon be home to the nation's biggest medical marijuana facility in the nation and critics, including Sheriff Grady Judd, say there's little they can do to stop it.
Until now, the sleepy City of Lake Wales was perhaps best known for its train museum or historic Bok Tower, but it may soon be known for something else. A company called GrowHealthy is ready to turn Main Street City into Pot City, USA.
"All I've ever been around any marijuana, or known anything about it, it ain't nothing but trouble," said Lake Wales resident Jack Ball.
But not everyone finds it so offensive.
"Just as long as everyone respects it and doesn't abuse it then I don't see any issue with it," said resident Deslyn Applewhaite.
GrowHealthy has already purchased the old Sealy mattress plant on Acuff Road in Lake Wales near the Lake Wales Municipal Airport. Thy plan on remodeling 185,000 square feet on 33 acres into a massive marijuana grow house and laboratory, making it the largest production facility of its kind in the nation.
Ready to open on Jan. 1, they say it's proximity to the center of the state and that its property is adjacent to a rail-line make it the right spot.
"And it would be controlled by the State of Florida based on what they want to see sold and who they want it sold to," said the company's CEO Don Clifford.
Clifford also promised top-notch security in the area. The $5 million facility would be a state-of-the-art prototype for others around the country, he says, for now, producing only Charlotte's Web -- an oil extract legalized in Florida last month.
But if Amendment 2 passes on the November ballot, GrowHealthy would likely expand its production.
"That would be full use of the marijuana plant and it would be leaves and other products that came out of it as well as extracts," said Clifford.
Given the remote location, Lake Wales City Manager Kenneth Fields hopes the facility won't draw a lot of attention.
"From the exterior it's just another warehouse manufacturing facility and you'd have no idea what's going on," said Fields.
Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd, an outspoken critic of medical marijuana, said as long as GrowHealthy is following the law, "then there shouldn't be an issue for us."
One silver lining may be job creation. It's estimated that GrowHealthy would bring about 75 permanent jobs to the area, making it a 'growth' industry in more than one sense of the word.