Dozens of investors lose out on medical marijuana production permits in central PA

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YORK, Pa. -- Several investors with plans of getting into the medical marijuana business in Pennsylvania are now wondering, what's their "Plan "B."

Nearly three dozen companies applied for permits to produce the drug in south central Pnnsylvania, but only two licenses were available to be granted by the state.

The middle of York City was proposed as the site of a medical marijuana growing and processing plant, but investors aren't the only ones disappointed to find out that production won't be moving forward there.

The old brick building on Poplar Street near Queen Street in York has seen better days.

Neighbor Tammy Jess said "it used to be a cigar factory. There used to be two homes that sat here, the back parking lot was an orchard. When I was 10, I lived down here on Queen Street. That's when it was a sewing factory."

Jess as well as investors had high hopes that the building's next incarnation would be that of a medical marijuana growing and processing plant, right in the heart of York.

"I wasn't too happy about it at first, but with the security and the safety of the neighborhood, for the building and the people that worked here. After figuring out medical marijuana helps people, it would be a good improvement for the neighborhood," Jess said.

"It's been empty for years, and it's just a big eyesore to our block," Jess added.

Five Leaf Remedies spokeswoman Christina Kauffman said "we had been very optimistic about our application, and about our prospects. It was a bit of a disappointment."

Five Leaf Remedies was one of nearly three dozen companies competing for two permits to produce medical marijuana in south central Pennsylvania. Now, it's one of several companies which lost out on getting a license from the state.

Those companies can appeal the decision within ten days.

"We're going to meet with our investors and decide exactly what options are out there, and which we want to pursue," Kauffman said.

Five Leaf Remedies set up a mock operation as part of its application to the state, growing garden vegetables instead of pot. Investors also had to show proof of $2 million dollars in capital funds, and pay a refundable $200,000 permit fee, on top of a non-refundable $10,000 application fee.

"We're still kind of calculating exactly where we are with that. We know that the non-refundable $10,000 fee is at least one sunk cost," Kauffman said.

"The effort is not quantifiable, there's a huge group of us, at least five of us who have spent hundreds of hours/trying to get the facility up and running and just doing research" Kauffman added.

It's time and money spent, while plans to revitalize a neighborhood with a new business are shattered.

"This property unfortunately will probably stay in about the same state. We're not 100 percent certain yet what we're going to do," Kauffman said.

"Very sad and unhappy that it wasn't approved, just because it needs something done," Jess said.

"In a lot of ways, maybe for the state, it wasn't comparing oranges and apples, but we trust that they did the job fairly and that they know what the broader plan is for Pennsylvania" Kauffman said.