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GRow Journal: Getting It Started

July 8, 2021

Hello everyone!

You’ve stumbled upon the first entry in my GRow journal. I decided to write this as a documentary of sorts about the journey I’ve been on in the cannabis industry. From the Grand Rapids Lottery for Special Land Use Permits to opening a cannabis business in a pandemic, and now coming out the other side, we are on the verge of expanding our small but GRowing company—with a cannabis cultivation facility. So let’s get caught up on what’s happening around the GRow!

First, a little backstory on how the GRow came to be.

The property and building adjacent to the Pharmhouse Wellness provisioning store came up for sale, and I kind of felt sick to my stomach. We had just embarked on the construction of that big project, and the expenses ahead of us at the time were yet unknown, and we had limited access to capital. Financially, it couldn’t have happened at a worse time. But, I knew if we didn’t go for it, this property might never come back around for sale. So, my wife, Megan, and I purchased the building in October 2019—and adding more anxiety to the situation—there wasn’t (yet) zoning for cannabis cultivation at the site.

We took the leap of faith and put the property under contract, hoping that somehow cultivation rights would be allowed in this area. However, we also needed to find a way to combine it with the Pharmhouse Wellness dispensary parcel, a zoning nuance required for co-located industry (cultivation and retail) at our Wealthy Street location.

With the help of an urban planning firm, Aligned Planning, we worked with the City of Grand Rapids and the neighborhood to advocate for cannabis cultivation. We requested that the city consider adopting cultivation rights into the zoning ordinance to help improve and revitalize the area. This area already had a strong presence of mixed industrial activity. Businesses have operated here for many years, manufacturing baked goods, alcohol, textile, and wood/furniture processing. We believe that industry today is vastly different than it was even a few years ago and that industrial uses can often make good neighbors to other uses. Luckily, the city agreed with our request, and a pathway was set for Special Land Use rights.

On November 12, 2020, we appeared before the Grand Rapids Planning Commission and were granted a Special Land Use Permit to cultivate up to 2,000 adult-use plants or 1,500 medical plants. Eek! It was a day we won’t soon forget.  

So here she is! We haven’t named her yet but this is our warehouse and soon-to-be cannabis GRow space! Located just a few doors down from the dispensary, the site will lend itself well to operational efficiencies like labor sharing, inventory management and shipping. At a footprint just shy of 4,000 square feet, it is modest in size compared to many commercial grows. Still, we couldn’t be more proud of this space and for the opportunity to carve out a little slice of happiness on West Wealthy.

This grow is a first of its kind for the City of Grand Rapids—100 percent locally-owned and soon to be 100 percent locally GRown cannabis!