By Matt Clevenger
TIPP CITY — Miami County’s first medical cannabis grow is nearly complete, with authorization for live plants at the new facility in Bethel Township expected any day now.
“We’re waiting for a certificate of occupancy,” Paragon Development LLC Owner Jason Wilson said. “We’re looking to have plants in here Friday.”
Located at 9292 S. State Route 201, Paragon Development’s new 11,000-square-foot facility contains a state-of -the-art grow operation, capable of producing more than 180 pounds of medical cannabis per month once it is running at full capacity.
“That will go up in phases,” Wilson said. “This is only phase one of the grow. By the time we get done, we’ll be 9,000-square-feet of canopy, and the building will be probably 18,000-square-feet.”
“There will be 1,000 plants cycled every 30 days here,” he said. “We’ll sell it to processors and dispensaries, so they can turn it into vape cartridges, waxes or stuff like that, or we’ll sell it to the dispensaries as flower.”
All of the medical cannabis produced at the facility will be distributed for use by patients in Ohio.
“There’s no Interstate transfer,” Wilson said.
Paragon Development has already invested approximately $3.7 million in remodeling for the building, which was previously used by a company that manufactured museum exhibits. Renovations included the installation of generators, new HVAC, plumbing and electrical, and specialized hydroponic growing equipment.
Security at the building was also increased, including the installation of approximately 189 security cameras located throughout the building.
“Everything in here is state-of-the-art,” Wilson said. “We didn’t cut any corners.”
Paragon Development is currently accepting applications, and plans on hiring several new employees in the future.
“We’re taking applications,” Wilson said. ”We do walk-ins.”
“We’ve got five full-time employees,” he said. “We’ll be up to 15 within the next six months; by the time we hit phase three, we could be in the ballpark of about 50.”
The company was recently featured in the national cannabis publication High Times Magazine, Wilson said, and State Senator Steve Huffman hosted a soft-opening at the facility on Friday, June 9.
Originally from Germantown, Wilson has been growing medical cannabis since the program started in Ohio. He and his wife also operate grow facilities in Oklahoma, where she is a resident.
“I’ve been in this industry since 2017,” he said. “My wife and I went down to Oklahoma where she got her license, we’ve been growing ever since. We built a facility from scratch; we learned everything about it.”
“It was a big learning experience,” he said. “We’ve got some very, very good product down south, and we’re looking to mirror that here. We’re in research right now on a strain that I designed which is the Widow of Bellaire, for migraines.”
A Navy veteran, Wilson first started researching medical cannabis as an alternative for other prescription medications.
“I’m a disabled veteran,” he said. “A lot of my friends like myself, when we got discharged, we were getting eight, 10 or 15 pills a day that we were taking. I found out through a lot of my friends that they were going to medical cannabis, and they stopped taking their pills.”
“I started investigating and looking into it,” Wilson said. “I went over to the World Cannabis Expo in Pennsylvania and did a little research with my wife, and found out that it wasn’t just military; now you have NFL professional athletes who are retired, who are on the same cannabis program, you have the kids for cancer.”
“We went to the MJ BizCom, which is the world cannabis expo in Vegas, and did a little bit more homework, and pretty much determined that this is what we wanted to do versus being strapped to taking pills all day long,” he said.
Figures released by the state in March show there are currently approximately 711,491 patients registered in Ohio’s medical cannabis program, Wilson said.
Opening the new facility in Bethel Township has taken several years.
“It’s been a long time,” Wilson said. “I won my license on Nov. 3, 2017, with everybody else.”
“I tried to put it over in Huber, and they put a moratorium in after I won my license, which put me between a rock and a hard place,” he said. “I had to go up through the state house and the senate to go in front of the Joint Committee on Agency Rule (JCARR) and change the address, which took two years and six days just to change the address.”
“This building came available the day after they put their moratorium in, so it worked out for me,” Wilson said. “I went just north of Huber Heights on purpose.”
“The mayor down there, he is definitely not for marijuana, which is unfortunate,” he said. “Bethel gets a percentage of the profits from this corporation. That goes toward the schools; that’s several hundred thousand dollars per year that they’re going to miss out on, potentially up to five, six or seven hundred thousand dollars per year of tax money that they are not going to get. They definitely did not care.”
Miami County and Bethel Township have welcomed the new facility with “open arms,” Wilson said.
“We haven’t run into any problems with any inspectors, we haven’t run into any problems with any of the city officials,” he said. “It’s been pretty good.”