Cannabis production company explores property buy in St. Helens
A marijuana production company is likely to purchase land from the Port of St. Helens for a cannabis wholesaling and processing site.
Property sale talks with port staff kicked off after Toucan Farms, a cannabis company that currently operates a grow facility near the Port of Shelton in Washington, approached the Port about leasing available land.
Port Commissioner Robert Keyser said he didn't think the Port should be entering into any lease agreements with a pot company while federal law still classifies marijuana as an illegal drug. Keyser instead suggested Toucan Farms buy property from the Port.
Toucan made an offer to the Port of $110,000 for a 1.05-acre site at 58240 Old Portland Road in St. Helens. The lot was purchased by the Port in 2014 for $80,000, Paula Miranda, the Port's deputy executive director, said.
A Port-owned site on Railroad Avenue in St. Helens was initially eyed for the company's new digs, but later proved to be too costly and difficult to develop, staff noted during a meeting Wednesday, Feb. 14.
The lot currently under consideration has an empty house that would be demolished and replaced with buildings for processing plants.
"Our main focus will be to process extract oils, distilling out both THC and CBD, which in turn we make into various infused medical and life enhancement products," Steven Fuhr, managing member of Toucan Farms, explained via email.
Fuhr said the company first approached the Port looking for a site to grow and harvest crops, but a glut of other suppliers in the cannabis market caused the company to modify its plans to include only processing and wholesaling.
"There are still hundreds of other grower-applications being considered, and we felt the over-supply issue will likely continue for the next two years at least," Fuhr noted.
He said Toucan is working with its sister company, Vancouver, Wash.-based xChemistry, to use genetic testing that can match the best terpenes and cannabinoids to suit an individual.
"We can then create products tailored to the genetic profile and specific needs of our customers," Fuhr stated.
He told commissioners Wednesday that Toucan expects to employ up to 10 people at first, then eventually double that number once operations ramp up.
Prior to selecting sites for Toucan to consider, Port Commissioners Larry Ericksen and Paulette Lichatowich visited the company's current site in Washington.
"When I went out to Shelton, their building was absolutely immaculate, there was no smell whatsoever," Ericksen noted Wednesday.
Port commissioners voiced less concern with Toucan's business model than the prospective property purchase Wednesday, asking for more time to consider the impacts of giving up the lot.
"I would've been more encouraged to support something right off Railroad Avenue, and more amenable to it had I known about it before," Commissioner Chris Iverson told staff. Port commissioners are expected to revisit the potential property sale on Feb. 28.