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GRow Journal: September 2021

September 27, 2021

You may have heard the analogy that being in the cannabis industry is like being on a rollercoaster. I’m here to certify that analogy is indeed true! One day you feel on top of the world with a new opportunity or achievement in front of you, the next day you find yourself miles away from that euphoria, surrounded by seemingly insurmountable barriers.

Even though it was way back in November 2020, I remember the moment like yesterday. It was the day we received our approval from the Grand Rapids Planning Commission for the cultivation (grow) license. I swear a week went by without my feet touching the ground. I literally felt like I was on top of the world! Slowly, I processed through that. The reality of the task at hand began to set in. Planning, engineering, permitting, financing… the list kept growing. I had some exposure to this process with the dispensary construction, but the grow process has been different. It is bigger. There are more moving parts. More expense. And more complex professional services. 

My pure passion for the plant, my longing to be in the garden again—that has been my light at the end of the tunnel. It has helped me to keep a level head. Until recently, that is.

We applied for our building permit in April 2021. Drawings were submitted to the City of Grand Rapids. A general contractor was engaged, and we were plowing ahead on electrical, plumbing, and framing. All while relying on “partners” to guide us through the conditions the City put in place as requirements to issue our final building permit. This permit is important because it supports the installation of critical climate control HVAC equipment needed in the manufacturing process. Well, those conditions were never met. Countless calls to my firm, delays, promises of responses—they all came up short. Finally, after months of back and forth, and a “higher level” meeting with the City, the final verdict came down. “We are not approving your building permit as it was submitted.”

All the time and money we had invested until this point, the equipment that was manufactured and waiting to be installed, the plans we had were all put on hold. I went from feeling on top of the world to being smacked with reality. 

So, here we sit. We’re 12 weeks into a delay with another four weeks ahead of us. So that’s four months in total. That’s how long it will take to remanufacture the equipment, ship it, and install it. That’s the missing piece before we can move onto finishing touches in the facility—floors, security cameras, tables and grow lights.

We had originally hoped would be wrapping up construction in October, but now our hope is to have everything wrapped up before the start of 2022. 

I’m doing my best to take it in stride! After some self-reflection and a minute to escape Michigan to take it all in, I honestly look no further than myself for this massive serving of humble pie. I learned a big lesson this go around, and it cost me dearly. I hope the next submission to this blog will be a little more upbeat. 

I’m definitely not trying to be Debbie Downer. However, I wanted you all to know it’s not all flower and fun and huge stacks of cash as a cannabis business owner. 

In this industry, it’s like walking on a tight rope. Don’t you dare look down!

~Casey

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