MARSHALL (WJRT) - (1/17/20) - A Michigan cannabis company scheduled to open a hybrid greenhouse in February said the $20 million project would change the marijuana industry.
Michigan Pure Med already had several Common Citizen retail stores, including one in Flint.
The company said the investment would be a game-changer for cannabis users and ultimately bring costs down.
Michigan Pure Med CEO Michael Elias said the high-tech, glass-walled greenhouse in Marshall is powered by sunlight and unlike any other cannabis facility in the state.
He said the plants will not touch outside air and the greenhouse would be able to grow marijuana 24 hours a day, even through Michigan winters.
The facility was designed to use solar power to help offset costs.
Elias said safety and quality production were also top priorities.
"We will be the first operation in the state of Michigan to be GMP-certified. We are building that into our design on day one," he said.
While cannabis remains illegal at the federal level, Elias said the greenhouse would follow the Food and Drug Administration's guidelines.
It was part of his plan to "deliver the highest quality product at the lowest cost and shortest lead time, and essentially set the price point for the state of Michigan."
Michigan Pure Med said the savings would be passed on to customers through wholesaling, the company's Common Citizen stores and beyond.
"We are looking broader than just Michigan. We think Michigan will be the best state for cannabis operations in the future," said Elias.
The company also designed the greenhouse to grow with demand.
According to Elias, it could go from 200,000 square feet to more than 1 million square feet.
Michigan Pure Med says it would allow the company to compete with Michigan operators as well as states that had more sun.
The scaling could also mean up to 400 jobs for Marshall by the time the plant was at full capacity, according to Elias.
Meanwhile, at Michigan Pure Med's Common Citizen store in Flint, medical marijuana patients looked forward to the potential savings.
Jeremy Westover said cannabis had changed his life. He was light sensitive and used medical marijuana to treat his anxiety, headaches and nausea.
"Cannabis helps calm the stomach down and makes it so I'm actually hungry. Sometimes a little too hungry," Westover said with a laugh. "I'm doing a lot better socially. I'm a lot more outgoing."
Retired computer analyst and Army veteran Cornell Zuzga was also a customer at Common Citizen in Flint. He was diagnosed with prostate cancer in March and wanted alternative treatments.
"I used pot to get through it," Zuzga said.
He said medical marijuana helped him sleep and alleviated his pain.
Elias said cannabis users such as Westover and Zuzga help inspire Michigan Pure Med. He said 88 percent of the country did not use cannabis.
Elias said the company was working to educate people about the benefits of marijuana.
"As a health care guy, I was a guy who never consumed. Ever. I was an athlete and I spent 21 years in health care, helping patients at the bedside and families. So I get the stigma," he said.
Michigan Pure Med said the greenhouse would be operational in early February.