Pennsylvania Pot Palooza: Medical Marijuana Industry to Outgrow New York

By Liz Eiseman.

Reports from The Cannabist as released June 22nd indicate that Pennsylvania may become a medical marijuana hub. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Adam Smeltz covered the observations, starting with Lalit Chordia. 

Mr. Chordia is known around the Greater Pittsburgh area as CEO of Thar Energy, LLC. Thar Energy is the parent company of Thar Process Inc. in O’Hara, PA. In an attempt to disassociate from the ever present marijuana industry stigma, Mr. Chrodia made it clear that his operation is “not a medical marijuana company.” Unfortunately for him, Thar Process Inc. has mastered a high pressure extraction method… ideal for producing medical marijuana treatments. Prior to Pennsylvania’s Act 16, Mr. Chrodia was unable to see the large profits from the marijuana industry. Luckily, that’s changed now. 

Act 16 has benefited PA in several ways; since Mr. Chrodia is eager to start profiting from medical marijuana, his Western Pennsylvania suppliers could create up to “a couple dozen” new jobs to meet demand. The corporation doesn’t intend to solely work in the marijuana industry, but it plans to be a key player in the marketplace. In keeping with that, Thar Process is looking to expand its payroll by roughly 30 workers. The goal is to become “the largest supplier of technology to every medical marijuana facility in Pennsylvania.”

Even if Thar Process, is unable to meet this goal, Pennsylvanians, stoned and sober alike, still stand to continue their gains. The Pennsylvania Medical Cannabis Society projected that as many as 5,000 in-state jobs could be created over the next five years. Harrisburg-based Russ Cerosimo Jr., the director of strategic alliances for the Society, explained this growth saying, “a lot of firms could realize new revenue streams by taking their existing products and moving them over to cannabis.” Other industries that have been proven successful in the cannabis market are packaging, security safes, and lighting. But since Pennsylvania’s laws have only changed recently, professionals who are unfamiliar with marijuana made need some coaxing.

Therefore, the Pennsylvania Medical Cannabis Society has hosted a number of professional events, akin to career fairs. In the crowds of 90-120 people, there have been real estate agents, investors, attorneys, growers, and health care providers. They’re all in attendance to learn about the industry, and combat the stigma surrounding medical marijuana. Presently, the legal scene is smoky at best. For now, eligible PA residents can’t access any type of marijuana based treatment, and won’t be until products are “available inside state borders.” This could take up to two years, and treatments would only be in pills, oil, topical applications, and the like. No one is permitted to smoke or grow marijuana within the state lines.

In lieu of adult gardening, officials responsible for the PA marijuana industry claim that the Department of Health will license up to 20 grower-processor operations. Industry consultant Gregory Sehr says that location and operational set ups will determine job creation, though Act 16 does require the state to be split in at least three regions for the operations. 

In New York, Sehr said, “tight regulations have contained direct job creation.” Despite the its 20 dispensaries and five manufacturers, the Empire State may only see about 120 new jobs in the medical marijuana industry. Furthermore, Pennsylvania legislators have offered a far more liberal list of qualifying medical conditions for potential patients. In fact, many worry that the state of PA won’t be able to keep up with demand, pushing projected sales up to $980 million by 2020. Mr. Chorida and Thar Process will see their fair share of the chump change, adding to their earnings from building the “largest piece of equipment for marijuana extraction in Colorado.” Mr. Chordia’s equipment may be required in other states, where he is sure to maintain his high manufacturing standards. At the end of his interview with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Mr. Chordia called on the health department to “look at the technology and make sure they are promoting the right technology.” 

So here’s to Pennsylvania, Lalit Chordia, Thar Process LLC., and those patiently awaiting the state’s medical marijuana boom.

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