By Woodrow Polston
Standard Wellness celebrated the opening of its $15 million marijuana grow facility with a ribbon cutting ceremony last Thursday.
Located just outside of Vandalia, investors, city officials and members of the media joined with employees for a presentation, lunch and a tour of the facility.
“We welcome you here today,” said Katie Hart, vice president of expansion and development for Standard Wellness. “It has been a long and sometimes funky road to get here. We would not be here without many of the people in this room, so I want to take a moment to thank you all. We also thank the City of Vandalia for supporting us from site selection through the entire process. We have kicked off this project a little less smoothly than we expected. We have had our tense moments, but we have come out stronger on the other side for it. Working through construction with the supply chain difficulties have cost delays and price escalation but this team really went above and beyond to mitigate those as much as possible,” she added.
Since the legalization of medical marijuana became law in Missouri, the industry has grown to more than $1 million in daily revenue across the state. According to MoCannTrade, an association of business owners governed by a 15-member board of directors and 45-member advisory board with backgrounds in medical and adult use marijuana, nearly 400 new, small businesses were created generating $1.2 billion in economic impact across the state since Amendment 2 passed. Chief Executive Officer Jared Maloof discussed Amendment 3, which passed in November and legalizes recreational adult use of marijuana across the state.
“For the last 100 years, this country has spent a $1 trillion fighting a plant,” said Maloof. “There has been a war on this plant. I am happy and proud to tell you today that this plant is winning the war. There are some knuckleheads in Washington that cannot get their heads straight around how to take this industry forward. California and Colorado have really paved the way forward for what has become mainstream acceptance of this plant. We got our start in Ohio and I have to say, the state of Missouri is doing an exceptional job,” he added.
Visitors, who were given a tour of the production rooms, were guided by employees who described the cultivation process of the plants. After the plants have reached maturity, they are taken by hand to various rooms for processing. The processing rooms and equipment vary according to the different types of products that the company makes available. Some products are in the form of concentrates, oils, patches, topicals, edibles and in raw flower form for those who choose to smoke the product. On the company’s product brochure, there are instructions on how to consume each product.
“Flower is most often smoked in a joint (marijuana cigarette), a pipe, or a water pipe. It is also vaporized in a vaporizer capable of handling cannabis flower. A typical joint contains a little more than half a gram of flower. Many patients prefer to grind their cannabis flower into smaller portions using a cannabis grinder. This helps the flower burn more evenly and smoothly.”
Although dispensaries are popping up all over the state, and investors are anxiously anticipating big profits, not everyone has high hopes for the industry. After all, Amendment 3 only passed by a small margin, with 1,089,017 voting yes and 962,230 voting no.
Among the benefits of the product listed on the company’s brochure are: “Calming, relaxing, uplifting and euphoric.” But the CDC notes on its website that marijuana consumption can kill brain cells.
Hart said, “I think that the industry as a whole hasn’t been able to see a ton of data on the subject. We have only been researching it on an expert level around 20 years. It is not for everyone, and no medicine is. Medical patients need to research and decide what works best for their individual needs. One example is a patient in Ohio who has MS, and prior to using the product, she could not get out of bed. In terms of warnings, we have very specific warnings on our products. Basically, whatever the state requires us to put on the product is what we include on the warning label. Some of the warnings are “do not consume if pregnant” and “do not operate heavy machinery,” she added.
Standard Wellness plans to immediately begin hiring employees for their facility in Vandalia. Investor Paul Ray said that they are currently understaffed with about 20 employees on site.
“We currently have about 20 employees right now,” said Ray. “We have a target of 33 by the end of January. Full-scale we are looking at about 50 employees to be fully staffed. We had a shortage of applicants initially, but we have seen a substantial increase since Amendment 3 passed in November. We feel that the increase may be because of Amendment 3 passing and the sense of increased job security as a direct result. Our average starting pay is around $15 an hour but may vary depending on the positions that we hire for,” he added.