UPSHUR COUNTY, W.Va. — Plants in the ground within six months and cannabis products on shelves by this time next year are the goals of the owners and operators of one of the companies now approved for medical marijuana cultivation in West Virginia.
“We’re going to have probably a month or so finalizing the design and then the construction process will be about three to four months,” said Matt Lawson-Baker, one of the owners of Armory Pharmaceutical, based in Upshur County, of the company’s timeline.
Their planned growing site is indoors at the old armory on Route 20 in Buckhannon which is already being used for hemp manufacturing and will be transformed into a full-scale pharmaceutical development site.
“For West Virginia, we’ve partnered with a group of doctors and scientists to use the facility as an opportunity to produce medicines and really bridge the gap between aspirin and opiates,” Lawson-Baker said.
“We really want to provide an alternative to opiates and we want to use this facility as the place to do our trials.”
Armory Pharmaceutical is one of ten companies recently awarded permits through the West Virginia Office of Medical Cannabis in the state Department of Health and Human Resources Bureau for Public Health to grow marijuana plants for medical uses.
The other companies were as follows:
– Harvest Care Medical in Kearneysville,
– Buckhannon Grow in Buckhannon,
– Holistic WV Farms I in Beaver,
– Verano WV in Beaver,
– Columbia Care West Virginia in Falling Waters,
– Tariff Labs in Left Hand;
– Mountaineer Holding in Belle,
– Mountaineer Integrated Care in Fort Ashby,
– Blue Ridge Botanicals in Southside.
“This is an important step in the process to make medical cannabis available to West Virginians with serious medical conditions and will generate economic activity throughout West Virginia,” said Jason Frame, Office of Medical Cannabis director, in a statement.
Now that growing permits have been issued, those with the Office of Medical Cannabis will move forward with the scoring of processor and dispensary applications.
In addition to the ten growing permits, ten permits are available for processing and up to 100 for dispensing.
As of now, the target date to begin registering patients for medical marijuana, through the issuance of patient cards, in West Virginia is next spring.
Physician registrations are currently being accepted.
Legislation legalizing marijuana for certified medical uses in West Virginia, the Medical Cannabis Act, was first signed into law in April 2017 with a take-effect date in July 2019.
Several issues have delayed implementation, including questions about industry banking which will be handled through a credit union as part of additions made to the legislation in 2019 and again this year.
Armory Pharmaceutical has permit applications pending for both medical marijuana processing at the Buckhannon armory site and dispensing at another location elsewhere in Upshur County.
If permitted for processing, Armory Pharmaceutical’s products could include tinctures, capsules and vape cartridges.
Lawson-Baker, an Australia native, oversees other cannabidiol or CBD companies in both Washington, D.C. and Louisiana.
In Buckhannon, he’s part of a team of about 20 for Armory Pharmaceutical, a partnership with New Harvest Botanicals.
“A couple of our team members are tied to the community there and have been there for a long time so there were a lot of existing relationships in the town,” said Lawson-Baker.
Eventually, 50 to 60 local people could be employed at the Armory Pharmaceutical site.
“We’ll be honored to come and participate in the community and try and create a new industry in West Virginia that can help really transform Buckhannon,” he said.