Phoenix-based The Pharm, one of the state’s largest wholesalers of medical marijuana is to expand its operations in Cochise County. The expansion is expected to create up to 50 new jobs.
The application for a special use modification was approved by a majority 5-2 vote. Local residents have 15 days to appeal the decision and have the matter decided by the Board of Supervisors.
The company has already invested more than $15 million at nearby West Greenhouse Drive, where it has 350,000 square feet of greenhouse and industrial space, employing around 150 people.
The Pharm will be planting 87,000 square feet of cannabis plants at a 99-acre property it occupies at 8251 N. Ingram Lane, Willcox.
At its January 9 meeting, the Cochise County Planning & Zoning Commission approved a special use modification, which will allow The Pharm to modify its original plans to utilize a greenhouse at Ingram Lane. It will now grow the plants outdoors.
In addition, the business will convert an existing home into an office, and repurpose a garage for equipment storage. No product will be stored at the property.
Development Services staff recommended approval of the application because it was in keeping with the rural agricultural nature of the area, and the economic development opportunities. The company will initially employ eight to 10 people, with a potential for 50 new jobs when the property is fully developed.
The County received eight letters supporting the application, and four letters against. Nearby neighbors say they are concerned about odor, security, light pollution, and potential impacts on wildlife.
Craig Boudle, The Pharm’s Director of Operations, said the aroma from the plants would be strongest during flowering – about two weeks, two times a year – but prevailing winds would help mitigate odor issues. Infrared cameras will monitor the site 24/7, and the proposed lighting will account for about seven percent of what is allowable under the County’s light pollution code, he added.
County planner Robert Kirschmann said The Pharm would need to contact the relevant state and federal agencies with regards to any threats to endangered species before construction begins.