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Falls Approves Medical Research Facility, Medicinal Marijuana Operation

The Falls Township Supervisors took a step toward bringing 50 jobs to town, while helping to repurpose 32 acres at the former US Steel site.

The board unanimously granted preliminary and final land development approval to MLH Explorations, an entity in partnership with Jefferson University Health System in Philadelphia. MLH Explorations seeks to construct a state-of-the-art marijuana processing facility at 150 Roebling Road within the Keystone Industrial Port Complex to grow, process and study the medicinal benefits of state-licensed medical marijuana.

MLH Explorations plans to hire 50 employees, including two horticulturalists to man the greenhouse operations, as well as staff to process marijuana into oils, gel caps and pills as permitted under the state’s Medical Marijuana Act and others to help with deliveries. The site will not be open to the retail public.

Following Falls Township’s local ordinance adopted earlier this year which governs medical marijuana grower and dispensary operations, the facility would be secured with a fenced-in area and steel sides up to 12 feet tall. Cameras would be in place and running continuously, according to MLH representatives. Access would be permitted only through electronic devices and access codes would be required.

MLH Explorations will partner with Jefferson University Health System in researching what causes the general conditions for people to respond positively via medical marijuana treatment.

The US Steel site was viewed as a great location because of its excess space for future expansion, as well as existing power and utilities. Officials said the facilities would increase the green space and thereby reduce the amount of impervious surface, which could help to lessen flooding for neighboring flood-prone areas.

While growing would be occurring in the greenhouse, MLH representatives said eco-friendly measures would be taken to use mainly all-natural preventative measures to combat insects. Water usage would be relatively small as water would be treated and fully recirculated into the system.

The board, in considering the application, approved land development waivers that are fairly standard for KIPC projects, including requirements for curbing, planting beds and street trees. The Supervisors, with Jeff Dence and Jeff Rocco absent, voted unanimously to grant preliminary and final land development approval to MLH Explorations. The board granted preliminary land development approval to a second proposed medical marijuana operation. That entity would need to come back to the board for final project review and approval before moving forward.

Supervisor Chairman Bob Harvie said the project marks “a new kind of operation for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and certainly for us.”

Falls Supervisors, in adopting its ordinance, set regulations for the production and distribution of medical marijuana and outlined where operations could be located, namely in the highway commercial; materials processing and manufacturing; and farming and mining districts. Operations are not allowed within 1,000 feet of a school, park, daycare center, community center or worship site.

Under the local ordinance, the medical marijuana grower and dispensary are required to “operate entirely within an indoor, enclosed, and secure facility” and provide a security plan specifying the type of 24-hour security, as well as tracking, recordkeeping, record retention and surveillance.

Hours of operation for both growers and dispensers would be limited to 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Exterior sales and sidewalk displays would be forbidden. Drive-through services would not be permitted. Minors would not be permitted inside unless accompanied by a caregiver.

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