PA: Medical Marijuana Prospect

Photo Credit: GB Sciences

Northumberland County Planning Director Don Alexander, who supports all applications for a medical marijuana grow and dispensary facility in the county, met with another “prospect” Friday morning at the Coal Township-SEEDCO Industrial Park who is interested in establishing a medical marijuana business.

As is customary, Alexander didn’t identify the “prospect,” but said information was provided about the property, which is privately owned by SEEDCO.

SEEDCO, which encompasses property off Route 61 in Coal and Mount Carmel townships including the Reinhart FoodService Distribution Center, stands for Structured Employment Economic Development Corporation. It is a national, nonprofit, community development organization that works with local organizations in low-income communities to promote economic advancement.

The 90-minute meeting attended by approximately 10 people including county and township officials was the latest development involving potential investors in the medical marijuana grow and dispensary business.

At 10 a.m. Tuesday, the county commissioners will hold a special meeting to vote on a letter of intent between the county and the Keystone Center of Integrative Wellness in Williamsport to establish a medical marijuana business near the site of the new county prison in Coal Township.

Magisterial District Judge John Gembic III is among the investors who have applied with the state for a license to develop a medical marijuana grow and dispensary in the former Kmart building on Route 61 in Coal Township co-owned by Gembic.

During an interview Friday at his office in Sunbury, Alexander said, “During the first round of the licensed application process last year, there were eight prospects, including four that either visited Mr. Gembic’s proposed site or were made aware of it. My role as planning director is to be a matchmaker with companies or individuals interested in starting businesses in Northumberland County. Neither I nor the county has a role in approving any of the applications. That’s up to the state.”

Alexander said all applicants must show their ability to control the property through a lease agreement, purchase and sales agreement or private ownership.

He said at least six applicants have filed for a medical marijuana grow license, a process he compares to a horse race. He said the applications must be submitted to the state by May 17 and are usually approved or denied within 90 days. If a license is approved, investors have six months to begin their operations.

“It would be totally irresponsible, unprofessional and imprudent of me to back any single applicant,” Alexander said in response to Gembic’s previous claim of a “back room” deal being made that denies other companies an opportunity to invest in the area. The judge claimed Alexander only showed the prison site to potential out-of-county investors instead of visiting other county locations including his own.

The planning director said, “I’ve been very transparent with each of the prospects and I support all the applications that will help the economy in our area. John Gembic’s intent to hire local people is commendable.”

Alexander said every applicant represents a minimum of 20 to 30 family sustaining jobs and a couple million dollars in new tax evaluations to the county and host community. He said the applications also present a marquee value for the county’s ability to attract high-tech jobs.

At Thursday’s meeting of the Coal Township Board of Commissioners, Gembic announced that the owners of Dan Shingara Enterprises — Dan and Tehani Shingara — are among the community investors partnering with him. Gembic said Dan and Tehani Shingara’s oldest son, Danny, also joined the local team and has “developed plans and techniques that are on the cutting edge of the growth and dispensary of the medical marijuana industry” in Colorado.

Gembic also appeared Wednesday before Shamokin City Council to speak of his grow application following claims by former Northumberland County Commissioner Vinny Clausi that current county Commissioner Sam Schiccatano met with “potential investors” regarding construction of a medical marijuana grow facility next to the new county prison.