Town­ship won’t op­pose pot farm

$10 mil­lion fa­cil­ity to grow med­i­cal mar­i­juana pro­posed at for­mer Stan­ley Flagg Brass Co. site

The Mercury (Pottstown, PA) - - FRONT PAGE - By Evan Brandt ebrandt@21st-cen­tu­ry­media.com @PottstownNews on Twit­ter

WEST POTTSGROVE >> A pro­posal to con­struct a 100,000-square­foot in­door med­i­cal mar­i­juana grow­ing fa­cil­ity on the site of the for­mer Stan­ley G. Flagg Brass plant in Stowe will not be op­posed by the town­ship com­mis­sion­ers.

That’s thanks to a unan­i­mous vote taken at Wed­nes­day night’s work ses­sion in which the com­mis­sion­ers agreed to sign a let­ter to that ef­fect.

The let­ter was re­quested by Keith A. Mor­gan of Haver­ford, a part­ner in Holis­tic Farms, who said the let­ter will help the com­pany in seek­ing one of the only two state li­censes that will be is­sued for the 11-county South­east Penn­syl­va­nia re­gion.

He needed it in time to meet a March 11 dead­line for ap­ply­ing for the li­cense.

Mor­gan said his com­pany is hedg­ing its bets by also pur­su­ing a li­cense for an­other site in New Cas­tle, Lawrence County in the North­west re­gion.

If the South­east re­gion li­cense is ob­tained, the com­pany would still have to go through the usual land de­vel­op­ment process to ul­ti­mately gain town­ship per­mis­sion to build.

At least one res­i­dent at Wed­nes­day night’s meet­ing ex­pressed con­cern about the po­ten­tial for the fa­cil­ity to at­tract or gen­er­ate more crime, but Po­lice Chief Matthew Stof­flet said the se­cu­rity re­quire­ments for med­i­cal mar­i­juana grow­ing fa­cil­i­ties are ex­treme.

Mor­gan said the con­crete block build­ing, which would cost an es­ti­mated $10 mil­lion to build, has no win­dows, se­cu­rity cam­eras and $4,000 locks.

“I was talk­ing to some­one in Philadel­phia about a fa­cil­ity be­ing pro­posed in­side the city lim­its and he de­scribed it as ‘Fort Knox,’” Mor­gan said.

Res­i­dent Tina Himes said the fa­cil­ity would be good for jobs and for the tax base. If built, the fa­cil­ity could ul­ti­mately be home to as many as 150 jobs, ac­cord­ing to in­for­ma­tion Mor­gan pro­vided to the town­ship com­mis­sion­ers. Res­i­dent Gla­dys Frain won­dered if the road con­struc­tion project on Route 422 or the fact that the site is in the 100-year flood plain would pose any prob­lem.

Mor­gan said no. Mor­gan ex­plained that Penn­syl­va­nia, which be­came the 28th state to le­gal­ize mar­i­juana for med­i­cal pur­poses last April, will is­sue only 12 per­mits statewide.

To ap­ply, Mor­gan said his com­pany must pay a $10,000 ap­pli­ca­tion fee, as well as a $200,000 cost if the li­cense is ap­proved. The li­cense is good for one year and costs $30,000 to re­new ev­ery year.

But the po­ten­tial re­turns are sig­nif­i­cant given that med­i­cal mar­i­juana is an­tic­i­pated to be a $1 bil­lion a year busi­ness in Penn­syl­va­nia in five years.

Mor­gan said the reg­u­la­tions are strict, with ev­ery seed be­ing tracked by bar code and ex­ten­sive record keep­ing re­quired for parts of the plant not used in pro­cess­ing.

The pro­posed fa­cil­ity in West Pottsgrove would grow the plants, re­move the THC and CBD, the chem­i­cals of med­i­cal use.

It would not be one of the

27 dis­pen­saries planned in Penn­syl­va­nia.

The chem­i­cals would be pro­cessed at the site into pills, lo­tions or oint­ments, said Mor­gan.

He said he is hope­ful his com­pany will win a per­mit given that his part­ners have ex­pe­ri­ence with sim­i­lar fa­cil­i­ties in Mary­land, Wash­ing­ton, D.C. and Mas­sachusetts.

In the mean­time, if ap­proved, the West Pottsgrove fa­cil­ity would slowly amp up, start­ing in a tem­po­rary grow­ing build­ing, par­tic­u­larly given that there may be as few as 3,000 cit­i­zens en­rolled statewide in the first year, Mor­gan said.

By the third year how­ever, given that 17 dif­fer­ent ail­ments are cer­ti­fied to re­ceive mar­i­juana pre­scrip­tions, the num­ber of en­rollees may rise as high as 50,000, said Mor­gan.

The state is sched­uled to make a de­ci­sion on which com­pa­nies get the li­cense in June, but Mor­gan said most be­lieve an Aug. 15 date is more likely.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS PHOTO

In this Jan. 31 photo, agri­cul­ture reg­u­la­tors from seven dif­fer­ent states and Guam tour a Den­ver mar­i­juana grow­ing ware­house on a tour or­ga­nized by the Colorado De­part­ment of Agri­cul­ture in Den­ver.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS PHOTO

Colorado’s Agri­cul­ture De­part­ment is open­ing up its mar­i­juana knowl­edge to other states and en­cour­ag­ing them to plan now for the pos­si­bil­ity of reg­u­lat­ing farm­ers grow­ing mar­i­juana, a plant that vi­o­lates fed­eral law.

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