Take a first look inside local medical marijuana growing facility

Cresco Labs’ new $15-million, 60,000-square-foot medical marijuana factory in Yellow Springs hums with fans and lights, “cultivation agents” wear medical scubs and latex gloves and a stern-faced security guard monitors dozens of video cameras from a locked room and every plant is tagged with a bar code.

The ribbon cutting held Monday drew community leaders from the school district, village, Ohio General Assembly and local chamber of commerce.

“Thank you for becoming a community partner and working with us,” said state Rep. Rick Perales, R-Beavercreek, as he presented a congratulatory resolution to Cresco Chief Executive Charlie Bachtell, a lawyer who previously worked in banking.

Marijuana has gone mainstream and corporate in Yellow Springs.

Related: When will Ohio’s medical marijuana program be ready?

Related: Costs, delays frustrate those wating on Ohio's medical pot rollout

“It’s a huge culture shift,” said Ellis Jacobs, a local attorney who turned out for the grand tour.

Inside the secure facility, 700 plants are in the beginning stage of growth with the first harvest targeted for Christmas time and Cresco products on Ohio dispensary shelves by early January.

Cresco is growing roughly 25 strains with names such as Alien Bubba Kush, Pineapple Express, Clementine and So Jay Haze — monikers based on the lineage of the plant, said Dennis Plamondon, director of cultivation. The latest strain is named “Yellow Springs Kush,” which he said will have a relaxing effect.

The greenhouse and indoor growing facilities are controlled for light, temperature, humidity and other conditions. Automated systems deliver water and nutrients to each plant and odor remediation systems will suck the pungent pot smell out of the air before it leaves the facility. The plants spend about a month in containers the size of a Dixie cup and then a month in larger pots before being moved to the flowering rooms for about nine weeks.

Plamondon said eventually the facility will be harvesting every seven to 14 days once more cannabis is planted.

Chicago-based Cresco Labs, one of the nation’s largest legal cannabis operators, is the first to open a medical marijuana facility in the Miami Valley. The company operates in six states and offers medical marijuana products, including flower, edibles, vaping pens and cartridges and multiple extracts.

Cresco is still waiting word from state regulators on whether it’ll be granted an Ohio processor license.

Related: When will Ohio’s medical marijuana program be ready?

Related: Costs, delays frustrate those waiting on Ohio's medical pot roll out

Since June 2016 when Gov. John Kasich signed Ohio’s medical marijuana law, investors, operators and regulators have been working to stand up the new industry.

The law authorized medical marijuana use by patients with 21 conditions, including cancer or chronic pain, in the form of edibles, oils, patches and vaporizing. Patients and their caregivers will be allowed to possess up to a 90-day supply. Smoking or home growing it is barred.

So far, more than 220 physicians have been approved for ‘certificates to recommend,’ 13 processors have been licensed, four labs have been approved, 56 dispensaries have provisional licenses and 10 of 24 cultivators have been given the go-ahead to operate.

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