Township won’t oppose pot farm
$10 million facility to grow medical marijuana proposed at former Stanley Flagg Brass Co. site
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.
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.
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.