Medical cannabis operator opens first Richmond region facility to patients

Green Leaf Medical recently opened its Manchester facility, which produces cannabis plants used in the company’s products and also serves as a dispensary. (Courtesy of Green Leaf)

The legal cannabis market is officially open for business in Richmond.

Maryland-based Green Leaf Medical on Friday opened the area’s first medical cannabis production and dispensary facility at 2804 Decatur St. The 82,000-square-foot facility will eventually be joined by five satellite dispensary sites across the south-central part of Virginia.

Green Leaf makes cannabinoid oil-based products that are sold as medical treatments to registered patients and also operates in Ohio and Pennsylvania. The Manchester facility is currently in a soft open phase in the run up to its grand opening. That is expected to take place in mid-December.

CEO Phil Goldberg said the firm aims to open its five satellite Virginia dispensaries within the next eight months to sell products made in the Manchester facility. The company expects to sign the lease on the first of those centers at a Richmond-area space in the next two to three weeks.

“We’re trying to move quickly on this,” Goldberg said. “We want to build out according to customer demand.”

Goldberg declined to reveal where the pending lease is, but said the company is generally interested in placing locations in Short Pump and Midlothian. Goldberg has previously said the plan is to have two Richmond-area dispensaries, and the others would be located elsewhere in the 27-locality zone in which Green Leaf is licensed. That area includes Richmond, Henrico, Chesterfield, Hanover and Petersburg.

In 2018, Green Leaf was one of the five companies to snag state licensure needed to build a medical cannabidiol oil-processing facility in one of the state’s five health districts.

Since it opened, the Manchester facility has seen around 1,200 customers come through its doors, Goldberg said. The facility, which produces about 2,000 pounds of plants every month, has about 125 employees.

Satellite dispensaries also will provide nodes for the company’s home delivery service. The satellite locations are expected to employ 20 to 25 people.

Green Leaf built the $20 million facility it calls home and then sold to San Diego-based Innovative Industrial Properties. Green Leaf now leases the facility.

The facility currently or plans to sell products such as tinctures, vapor products and edibles that require a prescription to purchase. Would-be customers must first get a written certification from a medical practitioner, and then register with the state Board of Pharmacy.

The debut of the local Green Leaf facility comes as state leaders eye legalization of recreational marijuana. Gov. Ralph Northam plans to propose legislation to that effect when the General Assembly convenes in January, the Virginia Mercury reported.

Goldberg said he was excited by the prospect, saying full legalization would be a positive development for everything from the state’s ability to generate revenue to a more equitable legal system. It would likely not have a major effect on Green Leaf, whose interests are rooted in the healthcare side of the business.

“We’re focused on the medical side. I believe a tremendous number, a large percentage, of so-called recreational users are people who self-medicate,” he said.

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