Walter Chidozie Anyanwu, Contributing Writer
The Maryland-based medical marijuana company Green Leaf Medical, in association with Virginia Pharmaceutical Processors LLC, is looking to set up shop in the Manchester neighborhood of Richmond, according to Richmond BizSense.
On Nov. 28, the Virginia Board of Pharmacy granted Green Leaf Medical conditional approval to produce and dispense Cannabidiol, also known as CBD, and THC-A oils in Virginia’s fourth Health Service Area, which covers Richmond and some of its surrounding counties, including Henrico.
A number of local individuals and companies are involved with the project.
Virginia Pharmaceutical Processors LLC is made up of a group of Richmonders keen on bringing the medical marijuana business to Richmond. Led by Richmond business owners Angel Papa, Sunita Gupta and Auserine Kuktelionyte, VPP secured the real estate end of the deal, scouting locations and enlisting contractors.
Neither Papa, Gutpa or Kuktelionyte could be reached for comment.
This alliance between Green Leaf and VPP was made official when the two amalgamated to form Green Leaf Medical of Virginia –– a company co-owned by the heads of VPP and Green Leaf.
Before receiving the license, Green Leaf was backed by local Richmond developer and entrepreneur Tom Papa –– who is married to Angel Papa, according to Richmond Bizsense.
Tom Papa is one of the co-founders and owners of real estate firm Fountainhead Properties. A body associated with Fountainhead owns the Decatur Street site, which is currently occupied by two old Philip Morris Tobacco warehouses.
Philip Morris is now owned by Altria.
These buildings are not far from the 28-warehouse site, also formerly owned by Philip Morris, that was converted by Clopton Siteworks back in 2016. Clopton is owned by Lynx Ventures, a development firm owned by Rick Gregory, an old partner of Tom Papa at Fountainhead.
The location adequately meets the zoning requirements of the city, one of which states that companies such as Green Leaf cannot break ground within 1,000 feet of a school.
It is not clear when work is to begin on the new Green Leaf dispensary, but as of December, Fountainhead has filed for demolition permits with the city.
The proposed facility will be about 50,000 square feet and will employ about 100 workers. The entire project should cost about $16 million. Construction firm KBS is listed in contractor plans filed with the city’s planning committee.
When completed, the facility will handle the growth, processing, distribution and retail for their products.
Patrick Davis, a VCU employee, said he thinks the venture will attract more business traffic to Richmond’s Southside, an area that has been one of low income in the past.
“I don’t think it’s a [problem], because you can see [CBD] popping up around Richmond,” Davis said, noting a number of shops in the city that carry the product. “In the public eye, it would help if they invested in businesses that are already established and hire people from Richmond.”
Green Leaf has similar operations in Maryland –– there are more than 20 dispensaries carrying their products in the state.
The products will be sold strictly to users who have a prescription, per the provisions of House Bill 1251, which was signed into law by Gov. Ralph Northam in March last year.
VCU student Caitlin Waits expressed some optimism for the potential growth that Green Leaf could bring to Manchester.
“Anything that can encourage reputable businesses and encourage traffic through the Manchester area can’t hurt the neighbourhood,” Waits said. “I know that they’ve been growing over the last few years and … there’s no problem with that.”
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