SNOW HILL – A local businessman shared his plans to bring a medical marijuana growing, processing and distribution facility to the little town of Snow Hill during a special work session this week.
In a work session hosted by the mayor and town council Tuesday, Royal Plus founder Matt Odachowski told residents he had applied to the state for one of the 15 licenses to be awarded to grow medical marijuana and was also seeking approval to process and dispense the drug.
“We’re in an uphill battle but we wanted to share what we’re trying to do,” Odachowski said.
Odachowski said that his company, Positive Energy, had submitted its application to the state earlier this month. Though state officials were expected to make a decision at the end of January, he said that because more than 900 applications had been submitted by companies interested in either growing, processing or distributing that could be delayed. According to Odachowski, the state received 102 applications from interested growers but would only be awarding 15 licenses in that category. More than 700 applications were submitted by companies who wanted to open medical marijuana dispensaries even though there will be no more than two of those per senate district. Odachowski said 75 processing applications had been submitted but it wasn’t clear how many of those would be given permission to set up in Maryland.
Positive Energy’s Lyndsay Odachowski said the state would be reviewing each of the 75-page applications entirely on their content and not on who had submitted them.
“It’s almost like the SAT,” she said. “They’re going to see who totals the highest score. Who’s who doesn’t come into the process.”
During the hour-and-a-half session Tuesday, Lyndsey Odachowski explained how medical marijuana worked and touted its benefits. She described how it had helped individuals suffering from diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s as well as those dealing with epilepsy.
“I’m not labeling it a panacea but it’s been proven to help,” she said.
She added that synthetic marijuana was already being manufactured and used in spite of the side effects associated with it.
“It’s scary that we’re prescribing these things when we have something that’s natural,” Odachowski said.
Barry Pritchard of Positive Energy also addressed the crowd. Pritchard, a longtime chemist and area resident, said he had been interested in the processing side of the medical marijuana business and had decided to partner with Odachowski. He said that after watching medical marijuana use spread across the country, he was happy to see Maryland put a well-thought-out system in place with its legalization of the drug. He assured citizens there would be a significant amount of oversight by the state and close inventory control.
“We won’t be supporting any black market,” he said.
He said there was no overdose risk with marijuana, as a 150-pound man would have to smoke 1,500 pounds of marijuana in 15 minutes to die.
“The lethal dose risk is essentially zero,” Pritchard said, adding that states that permitted medical marijuana use had a lower opioid overdose mortality rate.
Matt Odachowski said he had invested a lot of time and energy into Positive Energy’s application and at this point was just hoping his company would be granted the requested licenses. While it would be possible for the company to move forward with just one of the three licenses — growing, processing or dispensing — he said it would be difficult and that possibility would have to be evaluated if it came down to that.
Odachowski told his Snow Hill audience that two years ago, the possibility of entering the medical marijuana business had never entered his mind. The topic first came up when he received a call from an individual interested in leasing some of the Royal Plus space in Snow Hill to set up a medical marijuana facility. Odachowski said he told the potential tenant he had had no problem with the facility being used for that purpose.
He didn’t think any more about it until he started receiving calls and criticism from area residents who heard he was bringing a medical marijuana facility to Snow Hill.
“I was really concerned,” he said. “I live off my reputation.”
While he never heard back from the person interested in leasing space, Odachowski said the calls from concerned citizens were enough to prompt him to begin investigating medical marijuana. In doing so, he said he saw the benefits of the drug, particularly as it related to Parkinson’s disease, which his father suffers from.
“It’s been able to help people,” he said.
That realization was enough to prompt Odachowski to enter the fray himself. Though he knows the state’s decision won’t come until 2016, he said he wanted to make the community aware of his plans.
Snow Hill Mayor Charlie Dorman supports those plans and agreed making them public was the thing to do.
“We’re not trying to hide anything,” he said. “I think it would be a boon for us.”
Dorman said a medical marijuana facility in Snow Hill would bring a significant number of decent jobs to the area. When one resident asked if Positive Energy could provide a business plan to the public, Dorman said it was too early for that.
“A lot is unknown at this point,” he said. “We’ve got to get it [a license] first.”
In response to a comment that Royal Plus received the building it operated in for free from the county, Odachowski said that it would have cost Worcester County roughly $1.8 million to tear the facility down. Instead, his company took it over and invested $5.5 million into it.
“I put my heart and soul into that building,” he said, adding that Royal Plus continued to use the majority of it even though it had expanded its operations to Florida.
Local real estate agent Eddie Lee praised Odachowski’s efforts in Snow Hill and said he was a good man for the town to support.
“I’m going to go with the horse that I know will be faithful and true and that’s Matt Odachowski,” Lee said