HELLAM TWP., Pa. - Township supervisors approved Thursday a proposal that could bring a medical marijuana processing facility to the township.
Viridis Medicine, LLC successfully argued for a conditional use permit that would allow the company to build the facility on a parcel of land near Lincoln Highway and Blessing Lane contingent upon approval from the Pennsylvania Department ofun Health.
"It helps us a lot right now, because now we can move forward," Jeff Geisel, one of the company's founders, said after the vote. "It's part of the application process, so it does help us and we're very thankful that Hellam Township did accept."
One of the biggest concerns about the facility is safety measures.
The enclosed facility would be fenced off and have motion detectors, security guards on site at all hours, more than 300 surveillance cameras with facial recognition, and cannabis products would be stored in an internal vault.
"As you can imagine, security at a site like this is important and the steps that are being taken here are quite monumental," Jeffrey Lobach, an attorney representing Viridis, said.
The company provided testimony from consultant Nic Easley, a military veteran who has helped develop medical cannabis businesses across the country.
"You have this unique opportunity to do something different and to do something right," he said. "In one way or another, it's here and it's going to be here."
But some members of the public called out business officials for following a program they say breaks federal law.
"I cannot respect you now breaking our laws in our country, and I think it's time we as a public stand up and just call it what it is," Dr. Barbara Hoffmann, a resident, said to Easley. "It's a pot farm."
Others pushed the board to support approval, touching on their personal circumstances to bring the facility to York County.
"Cannabis is a natural product and I truly believe that this is the only thing that is going to help my son to live an independent life of any kind," Candy Warner, a Dover Township whose son has epilepsy, said.
No one in the public brought up the connection between George Hodges, one of the founders of Viridis, and Governor Tom Wolf. The men were former business partners and are cousins through marriage. But company officials stressed that Hodges' interest in the company is to help people heal, not to curry favor from state officials.
Company officials said Pennsylvania has established one of the most rigorous application processes nationwide and estimated they could be up against about 100 other applicants for only two permits in a 13 county area.