Board hears appeal to bring medical marijuana growing and research facility to New Garden
● By Richard Gaw
During an hour-long appeal before the New Garden Township Board of Supervisors on Sept. 17, Nicholas DeSanctis, a principal with Vedic Holdings, a Bryn Mawr-based commercial real estate company, spoke about the advantages of establishing a medical marijuana cultivation and manufacturing facility in Landenberg, during a conditional use hearing at the township building.
Representing DeSanctis and David Tuttleman, the owner of Matrix NV, a Nevada-based medical marijuana-growing company, MacElree Harvey attorney Charles Gerbron, Jr. introduced the intent of 380 Starr Road, LP to open the facility on 380 Starr Road in Landenberg, a 107,000-square-foot building that sits on 12 acres.
Because the current occupant of the building has verbally indicated to him that it may not renew its lease when it expires in 2020, DeSanctis told the board that he has begun researching what type of industries could be best served by at 380 Starr Road, and the rapid rise of the cannabis industry stood out to him.
“It's been one of the fastest-growing industries from a technical and pharma side that I've ever seen in my entire life,” he said. “It's not just big in the U.S., but around the world, and making headway in research and development.”
In his business, DeSanctis said that it's important to have vision, and sees the facility as a potential “hub” for cannabis research and development.
“I looked at this industry globally, and thought that this would be an amazing opportunity to do something really great and creative in New Garden,” he added. “I have a passion for re-deploying and re-developing this building. As a developer, a lot of times we can just walk away and forget about the communities we have invested so much time and money in, but this is not my interest with this building or community.”
The company, DeSanctis said, will bring jobs to New Garden, increase tax revenues for both the township and local school districts, and make the township a key research center for medical marijuana.
“From an agri- side, this really elaborates what this area is all about,” he said. “It's a mecca for agricultural growth and technology.
“This is not a bunch of kids hanging out on the corner. This is a highly-technical building with a lot of opportunity to create highly-skilled jobs in the agricultural market, with an emphasis on research and development, in a product and technology market that we think is going to change the world.”
Receiving conditional use approval from the board will be one of two hurdles 380 Starr Road LP will need to leap before it can open shop at the Landenberg site. It will also need to obtain an operating license from the Commonwealth, which it hopes to use in the near future. DeSanctis said that he would consider applying for a clinical research license in October if the board approves the conditional use soon, “otherwise we will miss this opportunity to apply,” DeSanctis said.
If awarded, it will enable 380 Starr Road LP to align itself with a university, medical center or medical research center.
“We would rather be able to work with people all around the world who wish to position their employees here to do research with us,” DeSanctis said. “This would allow us to grow, produce and sell to our own dispensaries within the geographic location of the research center.”
If Starr Road LP gets approval from the township and the state, the facility will grow, process and manufacture oils and various other approved products from marijuana plants with chemicals known as cannabinoids, or CBD, which is commonly being used as a medical supplement to decrease the physiological effects of anxiety; improve symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder anxiety; reduce arthritis, chronic and muscle pain, and pain caused by Multiple Sclerosis; and to alleviate the side effects caused by cancer treatment.
While still in its infancy stages, CBD is also being studied as an anti-seizure drug; as a possible treatment for epilepsy; and as a medicinal choice for those suffering from neurodegenerative disorders that cause the brain and nerves to deteriorate over time, such as Alzheimer's disease, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's disease and strokes.
The facility will feature “a tremendous amount of safety and security,” DeSanctis said, and although the interior of the building will likely change, the exterior will remain the same, with no impact to the surrounding community.
The facility will be operated by Tuttleman, a Wilmington, De. resident who is currently the chief executive officer of Matrix NV, a Nevada-based medical marijuana facility, and will bring as many as 160 white-collar research jobs to New Garden Township.
“I find this time, place and space to be a very unique opportunity to advance medical marijuana for the fine patients in Pennsylvania,” he told the board. “It is an advanced technology that is coming on very strong, and has great value to the places it has affected.
If a medical marijuana growing facility and research center is established in New Garden, it will be far from alone. Since California first passed a proposition legalizing marijuana for medical purposes in 1996, medical marijuana has seen a rise in state and public support, and as of June of this year, the use of cannabis for medical purposes is now legal in 31 states including Pennsylvania, as well as in Washington, D.C. and the territories of Guam and Puerto Rico.
The Sept. 17 hearing served as the first session of the conditional use hearing before the township's board of supervisors. Its second phase will be heard on Oct. 8, beginning at 6:30 p.m. at the township building.
To contact Staff Writer Richard L. Gaw, email firstname.lastname@example.org.