CHESTER >> A marijuana-growing facility is expected to be up and running in the city in about six months, according to Agri-Kind Inc. CEO Jon Cohn.
“We’re excited to be entering Delaware County and doing business in Chester,” Cohn said Tuesday.
Cohn said Agri-Kind, an offshoot of Agronomed Pharmaceuticals in Exton, is working with zoning officials in the city today on plans to build a 48,000-square-foot facility at a currently vacant site on the 100 block of Broomall Street.
It is one of 13 companies to get the green light in the second round of permitting by the Pennsylvania Department of Health and only one of two approved for the southeast region under the state’s medical marijuana law, signed by Gov. Tom Wolf in April 2016. The region includes Philadelphia, Bucks, Delaware, Chester, Montgomery, Lancaster, Berks and Schuylkill counties.
The law provides for a total 25 grower/processor permits and 50 dispensary permits. The state previously issued 12 grower/processor permits and 27 dispensary permits in the first round.
In order to secure a permit, applicants had to show the ability to maintain effective security and controls to prevent illegal conduct, evidence of municipality zoning requirement compliance and proof of $2 million in capital.
Cohn said Agri-Kind is currently working on securing genetics for hundreds of marijuana strains, though he expects to start off with about 30 while researching and testing others. The law does not allow Agri-Kind to actually import the genetics until operations are in place, however.
Cohn said an existing dilapidated building at the site is slated for demolition in the next few weeks with construction to begin thereafter. Many of the subcontractors for the work are expected to come from Chester and the facility is expected to create 40 new permanent jobs by the end of year one.
That could grow to 85 jobs within three years if the state stays purely medical marijuana. Cohn said there are already plans to grow the facility incrementally over time, but if the state goes recreational at some point, new zoning and new opportunities could open up.
For now, however, Agri-Kind is focused on getting the building up and ready, getting security and tracking operational, and having staff in place for an expected open date of Feb. 1, 2019.
More than 52,000 patients have registered to participate in the state’s medical marijuana program, according to the most recent figures from DOH, and more than 30,000 have already received their identification cards to purchase medical marijuana. More than 1,000 physicians have registered for the program and more than 700 have been approved as practitioners.