ECB Publishing, Inc.
It's now more than a rumor that a medical marijuana growing facility may be coming to Jefferson County.
County officials last week confirmed that they have been approached by representatives of such a facility. The Jefferson County Planning Department, moreover, is expecting the paperwork for the project to hit its office any day.
The word is that Trulieve – one of Florida's original medical cannabis providers – is eyeing an agriculturaly zoned parcel off U.S. 27 near the community of Waukeenah.
Trulieve describes itself as a vertically integrated “seed to sale” operation and the state's first and largest fully-licensed cannabis company. It currently has marijuana growing facilities in Gadsden County and dispensaries across the state, as well as making direct home deliveries and operating in California and Massachusetts.
Planning Official Shannon Metty said last week that she had met with Thad Beshears and Sean Marston on Thursday, April 18, at Simpson Nurseries to discuss the proposal. Beshears is the chief operating officer for Simpson Nurseries and a member of the Board of Directors for Trulieve Cannabis Corporation, which is based in Gadsden County. Marston is an engineer with Urban Catalyst Consultants, Inc., in Tallahassee.
Metty said the parcel under consideration is 85 acres in size and located about a half mile east of the intersection of Waukeenah Highway and U.S. 27, off the latter road. She said the plan is to put up three buildings of 250,000 sq. feet each, with each building to be equipped to grow marijuana indoors. The expectation, she said, is that the facility will employ about 300 people once it begin operations.
“It will be round-the-clock shifts,” Metty said she was told.
She said the buildings will be put up in three phases. The project, she said, will require a special exception as well as have to undergo a major site plan review because of its size and special nature.
“It's similar to a greenhouse but they can't call it a greenhouse because of its size,” Metty major development review.”
She underscored that no processing or distribution will occur in Jefferson County. The product, she said, will be grown here and shipped to Gadsden County for processing and distribution.
Metty said she expected her office to receive the paperwork on the project sometime in May, as the applicant has indicated that the project is under time constraints. She said the Planning Commission is expected to take up the matter on May 23. And if all goes according to plan, the Jefferson County Commission should hear the proposal on June 6 or 30.
She said it was expected that it would take 10 to 12 months to set up the buildings, with the idea of the facility beginning operation by 2020.
In 2018, Trulieve reported revenue of $102.8 million, a year-over-year revenue growth of 419 percent and adjusted EBITDA of $45.6 million, or 44 percent. EBITDA represents earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization. It is a measure of a company's operating performance.
An email to Victoria Walker, director of marketing and community relations for Trulieve for comment and further information went unanswered as of press time.