by Geoff Fox
Harvest of Maryland has hired three dozen employees in their processing operation in Hancock following state approval for the Arizona-based company to be a medical cannabis processor as well as a grower.
Harvest opened their cannabis growing plant in the former Fleetwood trailer plant in 2015.
According to Natalie Whylie, PIA contact with the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission, Harvest’s processor’s license was awarded during the March 28 commission meeting.
Harvest was the only medical cannabis processor license that had been up for approval at the meeting According to a list of processors, Harvest is the only one to be awarded this year. Overall, there have been 17 processor’s licenses issued, 12 in 2017 and four in 2018.
Harvest’s license expires on March 28, 2025.
The license allows Harvest to take the cannabis plant they grow in Hancock and turn it into a variety of medicinal products to be sold at retailers in Maryland.
Ben Kimbro, Director of Public Affairs for Harvest and based in Tulsa, Oklahoma, said the medicinal cannabis company is very excited to have the opportunity in Maryland.
“We’re appreciative of the MMCC’s continued support of our efforts in the state and we look anxiously forward to continuing to produce at that facility,” Kimbro said.
The eastern region of the United States is an important piece of the puzzle for Harvest.
“We’re excited to expand in Maryland in particular,” Alex Howe, Head of Corporate Communications said. Howe is based in Los Angeles.
In Hancock, Harvest is adding eight additional flowering rooms in their cultivation operation that utilize a two-tiered system that would build out the existing indoor growing space.
Kimbro anticipates Harvest will start producing additional products in April 2020.
The products coming out of the Hancock facility would be along the lines of the flower already being produced at the facility, Kimbro said.
Currently there are 52 active employees in the cultivation facility in Hancock with three pending hires.
In the manufacturing facility, Howe said there are 36 active employees and three pending hires there as well.
Harvest has committed to Hancock but is looking to the future.
In the near term, Kimbro said Harvest is remaining focused and aggressive on getting their licenses, getting all the facilities up and running and staffed, focused on high quality experience on good patient access, which is the stated objective of the MMCC.
Statewide, Harvest has an existing store in Rockville called Harvest’s House of Cannabis and recently acquired a dispensary in Lutherville-Timonium called Your Farmacy, Howe added.
Howe echoed Kimbro in stating that the patient access is really key for the company and the Hancock facility and efforts are focused on that.
“We’re certainly in places like Los Angeles and some larger markets, but we recognize that there are people that need what the plant can bring them in a lot of places,” Howe said. “So we’re committed to improving patient access across the state and across the country.”
When asked what the long-term plan is, Kimbro answered, “How long is a piece of string?”
“There’s certainly a lot of conversation around adult use in Maryland that they’ll have to see where that goes,” he said.
For the time being, he added, recreational marijuana law changes are “pretty well bogged down.”
Kimbro doesn’t know if there will be meaningful movement on that until the Maryland legislature comes back into session.
Howe said Harvest as a company has opened a location in Venice, Calif., and entered into a partnership with a new entity called The Last Prisoner Project. He said the program is dedicated to making sure every last prisoner being held on cannabis-related offenses gets out of prison.
“We’ve committed to building out a training and re-entry program where we’ll actually educate participants, whether it’s in prisons or halfway houses, to basically learn how to work effectively in the cannabis space, give them some life skills, with the ultimate goal of hiring them in one of our facilities,” Howe said.
Howe said he believes Harvest is the first company in the states to do something like this.