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York firm finds partner, renews push for MMJ permits

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Five-Leaf Remedies Inc. hopes to convert this former warehouse at 213 E. Poplar St. in York into a facility for growing and processing medical marijuana
Five-Leaf Remedies Inc. hopes to convert this former warehouse at 213 E. Poplar St. in York into a facility for growing and processing medical marijuana - (Photo / )

After failing to win permission last year to grow and sell medical marijuana, a York-based company has decided to try again.

Five-Leaf Remedies Inc. filed an application last week with the state seeking permits for a dispensary and a grower/processor facility in York County, said Christina Kauffman, a spokeswoman and investor in Five-Leaf.

The company was denied permits in 2017 and was on the verge of abandoning its efforts, Kauffman said. But it has found an out-of-state partner with more expertise and financial resources, encouraging Five-Leaf's backers to try again, said Kauffman. That partner is Washington-based Grow Op Farms, which has taken a minority ownership stake in Five-Leaf.

"We decided that instead of giving up on this that we were going to put together the best application that we know how to do," Kauffman said.

Five-Leaf's application was filed last week under a second round of permitting in Pennsylvania's medical marijuana program. The first permits were awarded last year, and medical cannabis went on sale earlier this year.

Among the new dispensaries is one in Penn Township, the only one approved to date in York County.

Kauffman said Five-Leaf expects a decision in about a month on its application. It hopes to open a grower/processor facility at an old warehouse at 213 E. Poplar St. and is eyeing a dispensary location in the former South York Diner, on Queen Street off Interstate 83 in York Township. A permit would allow it to open two other dispensaries in other counties.

The company's investors and advisers include several prominent community and business leaders in York. They take pride in their diversity and community involvement and hoped that would lead to a permit, Kauffman said.

But they noted that many of the applications approved in 2017 came from companies with deeper pockets and more extensive experience in medical marijuana, Kaufman said.

Other companies had approached Five-Leaf but wanted a majority stake, Kauffman said. The partnership with Grow Op gives Five-Leaf greater financial backing and expertise than it had before. She declined to disclose Grow Op's stake in Five-Leaf, formed as a benefit corporation, but said decision making remained in York.

"Grow Op Farms understands the benefits of local control and the philanthropic and charitable things we want to do," she said.

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Joel Berg

Joel Berg

Joel Berg is editor of the Central Penn Business Journal. Born in Philadelphia, raised in Northern Virginia and now living in York, he's a graduate of Franklin & Marshall College and the University of Maryland. Have a question or story idea? Email him at jberg@cpbj.com. Follow him on Twitter, @JoelBYorkPa.

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