CT's legal marijuana trade is ready to bloom

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Grow cannabis indoors where light, temperature, and humidity are controlled. | Image Courtesy: Yehyun Kim :: ctmirror.org

—In the coldest and grayest days of winter, a warm and incredibly bright yellow light reliably shines on the dense bushes deep in the converted warehouse. They are marijuana plants, some are as tall as Christmas trees and have flowers.

“For these plants, it’s like every July 15th,” said Rino Ferrarese, CTPharma’s president and co-founder. CTPharma is one of four licensed medical marijuana producers in Connecticut, and the state is entering a new era. Large leisure market.

The jagged leaves and flowers gleamed in the light of the light frost, which is a promising signal that the cash crop is about to mature. Whiteness is actually a sticky resin, which contains active ingredients such as hemp, THC and CBD.

Ferrese said that by weight, weed baby boomers who smoke in college may have no more than 3% or 4% (tetrahydrocannabinol) (tetrahydrocannabinol) in cannabis. Lexikan is a popular version of his company's popular strain called Lemon Skunk on the street, and its content exceeds 30%.

"That was our big lie," Ferrares said. "That is our Coke classic."

A small bottle of one-eighth ounce (or 3.5 grams) of dried and trimmed Lexikan flowers is expensive, and is currently listed at a medical marijuana dispensary in Hartford (one of 18 states in the United States) at $42. Plants that are now approaching maturity should each produce a pound and a half of flower buds.

State law requires third-party laboratories to test and list the exact content of THC, CBD, terpenes and other substances in each product sold by the four manufacturers on the label: CTPharma in Rocky Mountain, Sinsberg Curaleaf in West Haven, Advance Grow Labs in West Haven and Theraplant Watertown in Sinai.

Elsewhere in the complex, packaged cannabis flowers, mechanically rolled joints, atomized cartridges, tinctures, oils, concentrates, baking powder and other products sit on shelves in the vault, waiting to be shipped.

The cheapest item is a $2 pack of hemp-infused honey, which is one of 120 products in the company's ever-changing product line, each with an SKU number and barcode. On the most recent day, Ferrarese estimated the retail value of the items in the vault at $3 million.

Pot is quickly attracting any other consumer products. In the next few months, the conference will decide whether CTPharma's growing product line can be provided to the mass market.

Jin Yiyun :: ctmirror.org

In the CTPharma facility in the Rocky Mountains, young cannabis plants receive 18 hours of artificial light and 6 hours of darkness. The automatic drip irrigation system feeds them. Later, they will be transferred to a room equipped with lighting designed to promote the growth of flowers.

CTPharma is supported by mainstream investors, including the former Republican Lieutenant Governor of Connecticut, Michael C. Fedele (Michael C. Fedele). CTPharma's security director is Mark Kaczynski, a retired DEA agent who works part-time as the mayor of a suburb near Berlin. Its registered lobbyist is Gary Berner, a former Republican state legislator and consumer protection official.

Connecticut legalized the possession of marijuana and authorized its use in a designated list of medical malpractices in 2012. Growers and pharmacies opened in 2014, and the physician-certified medical user market has grown steadily, doubling in the past four years.

Until recently, CT Pharma built a 17,000-square-foot building in the shadow of Portland’s Arrigoni Bridge, located on the opposite side of the Connecticut River from the Rocky Mountains.

Taking into account the current market constraints, the new building is very large, only 216,532 square feet (or 4½ football fields). Due to its high headroom, it has the potential for double-layer decoration, which can create 400,000 square feet of usable space, which is 24 times the original facility.

Mark Pazniokas :: ctmirror.org

Rino Ferrarese examines a flowering cannabis plant.

As of last week, the statewide legal marijuana customer base was 50,142 residents of the state, and one of the 1,390 registered doctors prescribed the use of medical marijuana to treat 38 debilitating medical conditions in adults and 10 cases in children. Debilitating medical conditions.

Needless to say, this private company is building for tomorrow, not today.

Ferrales said investors are seeing the growing maturity of the Connecticut medical market, with at least 80,000 people, and perhaps as many as 110,000 people. Like neighboring Massachusetts, countries that open up to legal cannabis are expected to increase tenfold. The company is also committed to drug development.

Last week, Governor Ned Lamont introduced a piece of legislation authorizing entertainment sales from May 2022. Ferrarese said he and other cannabis growers are preparing to increase production.

The biggest obstacle to passage may be solving the problem of social equity-in essence, who should benefit from new business opportunities and taxation in the entertainment market.

Cannabis dries flowers in a room where humidity and temperature are controlled.

Jonathan Harris, formerly the head of the Consumer Protection Department, responsible for the medical marijuana business, is now a senior consultant at Lamont. His mission is to build the entertainment market to accommodate serious injuries from criminal convictions. Entrepreneur Pot of Colored People

Harris said: "There are many barriers to entering the market." "And we have seen how things happen in other countries, but they often fail."

One of the obstacles is money.

The entry price for the production and sale of medical marijuana includes an annual license, the annual license fee for the producer is $75,000, and the fee for the dispensary is $5,000. For recreational licenses, the government is considering charging $750,000 for growers and $250,000 for pharmacies.

An automated system will be created to delete criminal records for easy possession and creation of tiered licenses, including licenses for micro-farmers. The equity committee can make further recommendations before the 2022 start date.

Harris said: "The governor intends to continue intense dialogue with the legislature, supporters, other states, and most importantly, people from black and brown communities who have been unjustly affected by the war on drugs."

Since the private equity group led by Fedele ran for governor in 2010, CTPharma's expansion has been completed. The company completed a transaction in June 2018 and acquired the company. At that time, the number of people in the medical market did not exceed 27,000. The terms of sale are private.

"They are the original investors, and they did a good job in the transaction," said Fedele, chairman of the board of directors of the closely co-operating company.

Regardless of the sale price, it is only part of the new owner’s investment. According to land records, they paid $7.57 million for the new building on Valentine's Day a year ago. Since then, they have invested more money in business.

More than 100,000 square feet of previously open warehouse space has been converted into laboratories and rooms for growing, drying, pruning, curing and packaging weeds, as well as extracting THC, CBD and other elements for concentration.

CTPharma staff trims dried cannabis flowers.

There is no giant indoor marijuana. The smaller growth room allows for different artificial seasons throughout the year, thereby enabling a stable flow of harvested products and a stable workflow of 100 employees.

"Each of these flower rooms is planted and harvested up to six times a year. We staggered the rooms," he said. "Therefore, everyone always has enough work to do. This is an eternal cycle. And patients need fresh products."

The two rooms are labeled Mother 1 and Mother 2 respectively.

They contain a stock of baby plants cloned from the mother plant, as well as various strains with street names such as headband, car breath, and of course lemon skunk. Connecticut did not allow commercial growers to use street names, so the name was changed.

Compared with seeds, one of the advantages of cloning is that it can ensure that only female plants are bred. Pollination of male plants will cause female plants to produce seeds instead of flowers.

The cloned cuttings were grown in a proprietary mixture of soil and peat, initially in a three-gallon container under a metal halide lamp, illuminated for 18 hours a day, and emitted blue spectrum light that mimics the spring sunshine. The quality and quantity of light promotes the growth and growth of plants, resulting in dense vegetation.

Finally, the plants were replanted in 10-gallon containers and transferred to a growth chamber, where red is the spectrum and pale yellow to the human eye, suggesting summer and autumn. Eventually, the light will be reduced from 18 hours to 12 hours, which is an artificial fall that induces the plants to bloom. In the last few weeks, the temperature drops, which is another signal that promotes flower growth.

The electricity bill requires US$45,000 per month. Artificial sunlight is not cheap.

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The cost of the control unit used to control the flow of water and nutrients into the plants through the pipe network is $25,000, and Ferrarese said they may eventually need to add eight more. The walls are white, the floor is gray epoxy resin, and the price is $4 per square foot.

Everyone wears hairnets, and the atmosphere is between the commercial kitchen and the laboratory. The air exudes the sweet and sour taste of various canned strains. The names of the visitors have been recorded with state regulators, and they are wearing work clothes without pockets. Access to each room is controlled by a key card. An audible alarm will be triggered if the door is half open for 30 seconds. The surveillance cameras are very careful from the inside to the outside.

Four years ago, an investor in the original group was found to have removed a small amount of marijuana. He was arrested and the permit required to become a financial supporter was revoked.

A CT Mirror reporter and photographer visited the facility on Thursday. On Friday, the governor's top budget official, Secretary of Policy and Management Melissa McCaw (Melissa McCaw) made the same visit.

In addition to the possibility of eventually entering the adult entertainment market, the new ownership led by Fedele also sees the growth potential of cannabis-derived drugs, but the prospect of acceptance by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has been slow.

CTPharma is currently conducting FDA-authorized investigative drug trials for stress and pain drugs. Researchers at Yale University School of Medicine are conducting double-blind testing of the drug.

Ferrarese said: "We are testing the efficacy of various doses of CBD to understand whether CBD is used with THC or alone or in combination with THC." "Is there a difference? Do you know the way patients experience pain and stress in a clinical setting? We actually We are drawing blood. We are also taking vital signs. We are conducting patient surveys in a controlled clinical environment."

While the FDA is preparing to approve Epidiolex, Fedele vigorously promotes the development of the cannabis business. Epidiolex is the first drug to remove cannabis on the US market. The drug is an oral anti-epileptic drug that uses CBD or cannabidiol (a substance in cannabis and cannabis that does not produce high levels).

The then FDA Commissioner, Dr. Scott Gottlieb,

The time has come for scientific analysis and research of cannabis.

"This approval is a reminder that advancing a sound development plan that properly evaluates the active ingredients in cannabis may lead to important medical therapies. The FDA is committed to this kind of careful scientific research and drug development," Gottlieb said.

For parents of children with severe epilepsy who do not respond to other drugs, CBD and Epidiolex have always been miracles. They can reduce or even prevent seizures, which can afflict some children hundreds or hundreds of times a day.

Epidiolex is produced by the British company GW Pharmaceuticals. Last year's sales were US$500 million. Analysts estimate that the market will reach US$1 billion. Two weeks ago, Jazz Pharmaceuticals agreed to acquire GW Pharmaceuticals for US$7.2 billion.

The chopped cannabis buds are mechanically fed into the vial. Check the weight carefully by hand.

Fedele said: "When you start thinking about the potential of what you can do with the advantages of the factory, this is actually where the home run is." "That costs money. When you start drug development, various experimental studies and When it comes to things, it costs a lot of money."

Ferrarese developed from a successor to a canning company, and later to an old Connecticut company, also engaged in the business of extracting products from botanicals: EE Dickinson & Company, the company produces witch hazel for astringent skin cleansers, Soap, mouthwash and cosmetics.

His co-founder and the company’s first CEO was Tom Schultz, a Wall Street lawyer and investment banker, who eventually ran Dickinson after overseeing the merger of Dickinson with another manufacturer, American Distilling. .

Schultz is 70 years old. He died last year after being hit by a van while riding a bicycle. He became a national figure in boosting the commercial potential of cannabis.

“The move from witch hazel to marijuana is not big,” Ferrarese said, adding that their background is likely to help compete for licenses. "The country knows us from the witch hazel

Business, and know that we are proficient in planting, harvesting, processing and extracting. well. "

The Connecticut Mirror is a non-profit newsroom. 90% of our income comes from people like you. If you value our report, please consider donating. Knowing that you have helped implement CT Mirror, you will enjoy reading it even more.

He is the Director of the Capitol Bureau and the co-founder of CT Mirror. He is a frequent writer for WNPR, a former state political writer for Hartford Courant and Journal Inquirer, and a writer for The New York Times.

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