LINWOOD — The amount of money to be made growing cannabis for medical or recreational use is enormous.
That came through loud and clear at Tuesday’s talk by Green Living Technologies International President George Irwin at Linwood Country Club. Irwin was the main speaker at the February meeting of the Public Relations Council of Greater Atlantic City.
The company started as a green roof builder and expanded into green wall gardens and vertical growing. Its latest foray is into cannabis growing with GLTCannabis, after Irwin’s son was diagnosed with lymphoma and needed medical marijuana, Irwin said. His son is healthy and working full time for the company now, Irwin said.
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Medical cannabis retails for $7,500 a pound, said Irwin, and his company’s cost to manufacture it is about $175 to $200, not including the cost of equipment.
“You see the markups,” said Irwin.
As Gov. Phil Murphy continues to push for legalization of recreational marijuana and medical marijuana expands in New Jersey, the business of cannabis cultivation takes center stage. The revenue at stake for both businesses and the state puts tremendous pressure on the Legislature to act.
“My cost is $15.35. That’s a margin of $434 in one ounce of cannabis,” Irwin said. “Even if it were cut in half, there are incredible margins to be made in the cannabis industry.”
“I’ve got the property. Let’s do it!” called out one audience member.
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A compromise bill worked out between Murphy and the Legislature, said to set the tax rate on recreational marijuana at $42 per ounce, is expected to come up for a vote in the Legislature soon.
On the other hand, some communities are saying no to allowing marijuana cultivation, manufacturing or sales within their borders. Ocean City, which already outlaws the sale of alcohol in town, is set to vote on such a ban at its next council meeting at 6 p.m. Feb. 28.
“I think this is going to be very dangerous,” Mayor Jay Gillian told OCNJDaily.com about the state possibly legalizing recreational cannabis.
Irwin’s company applied to be one of six new licensees for growing medical marijuana during the last state application period, but was not chosen when selections were announced in December.
“We did try under a third-party name,” he said. “We came close.”
Among the companies that were awarded licenses were MPX New Jersey, which will cultivate in Galloway Township and dispense in Atlantic City, and Columbia Care New Jersey, which will operate in Vineland.
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Now, the company is marketing its intensive growing systems, which it licenses to growers and manages with its own trained workers, to those who got the licenses.
Green Living, which has offices in Toronto, New York State, Florida and Atlantic City, has a vertical growing shipping container visible on Albany Avenue at the entrance to Atlantic City and is helping Compassionate Care Foundation grow more intensively in its Egg Harbor Township medical marijuana facility, Irwin said.
“We drop ship them there and move them to different parts of the country,” Irwin said of the Atlantic City location.
He said his shipping containers are ready to go and a grower can have product in 12 weeks, rather than waiting months for the full operation to get built.
The shipping container unit at Compassionate Care was installed in September, and its first product has hit the dispensary shelves for sale. Irwin declined to disclose how much the shipping container produced, since it is Compassionate Care’s business.
“It’s performing extremely well. The product grown last propagation cycle tested above the norm. The quality is exceptional,” Irwin said.