Medical marijuana facility waiting approval to operate in Erie County

Category:  News
Wednesday, November 16th, 2016 at 4:52 PM

Last week, a town hall meeting was held at 1540 East Lake Road concerning a potential medical marijuana growing facility in Erie County. Act 16 — Pennsylvania’s Medical Marijuana Act — went into effect on May 17, 2016, legalizing the use of marijuana as a medicine for those suffering from chronic illness or pain.

Pennsylvania’s Act 16 allows the use of oil, pill, topical forms, vaporization, tincture and liquid, prescribed by a state approved and regulated doctor only. The Pennsylvania Department of Health website has stated, “implementation of the program is expected to take between 18 and 24 months.”

There are 17 severe medical conditions that allow a doctor to prescribe an individual marijuana under the act, including cancer, HIV, PTSD, epilepsy, and more. This includes autism, in which Pennsylvania was the first state in the U.S. to offer autism on the bill as an accepted condition for medical marijuana, according to WGAL.

The Pennsylvania Department of Health has announced they will regulate 25 growers and processors, with 50 dispensaries throughout the state.

Local Calypso Enterprises LLC looks to be a “state of the art pharmaceutical grade medicinal cannabis manufacturing company,” according to a press release published by the company. It will be located at the SB3 Industrial Park.

Hiram Santisteban, director of marketing for Erie Management Group, said the facility’s purpose will be to grow and produce oils.

“It will be a state of the art, heavily regulated facility, [and] manufacturing company. It’s going to grow and produce because the state of Pennsylvania is very unique in how they allow the licenses. It’s only oils that are permitted,” Santisteban said.

He continued, “There are plenty of people that can benefit from this alternative medicine. That’s in reality what it is. We are, in a way, a pharmaceutical, natural company, with the same guidelines.”

Santisteban also shared that the application must first be approved by the state before they can move forward at this time; referring to the requirements by the state of growers to apply for a permit.

These requirements include background checks, description of business, statement indicating moral character, ability to maintain effective security and providing a diversity plan. Santisteban estimates the grow facilities may be operational by late 2017 if all goes to plan and they are approved by the state.

“According to the law, with an approval you have six months to get up and running. We are hoping, and this is a big hope, because it’s all depending on the state and legislator and the department of health, that sometime in late 2017 we will be able to be operational,” Santisteban said.

The facility will create an estimated 40 to 50 local jobs for Erie County.

“Those jobs range from entry level, all the way to executive. Our primary concern is going to be hiring local people, from the construction— from the day that we move the first rock— to the finishing, we are planning to use local vendors, local materials, local construction companies. Everything will remain as local as possible, but our priority is employees,” Santisteban said.

Santisteban mentioned the facility will be heavily regulated and guarded by 24-hour security.

“The most interesting part is you won’t even know we are here, because of the level of security,” Santisteban said.

Samuel “Pat” Black III, Vietnam War Veteran, is the sole investor in the facility and has been in the Erie community for over 35 years. At the meeting, Black shared a story about why he is personally invested in the cause.

“He has a family member who suffers from intractable pain. They have tried all kinds of viable options to help with the condition; medical marijuana has been the only solution. So for him this is personal,” Santisteban said.

There will also be a tax benefit from this facility, as all growers and dispensaries are taxed 5 percent, according to the Tech Times website. The press release from Calypso Enterprises states the revenue from these taxes will directly benefit the city and county of Erie, and the Erie school district.

There was also a meeting in Corry, Pennsylvania this past September to outline plans for a $10 million facility to be built in Corry Industrial Park. It would be the first of two potential grow facilities in Erie County, including the one just announced to be located at SB3 Industrial Park. 

Anna Ashcraft is a Managing Editor of Arts for The Spectator.

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