SunMed Growers LLC in Cecil County, MD, recently received a pre-approved license to become a medical cannabis growing operation. The company was one of just 15 licensees selected by the commission out of a pool of 145 grower applicants to receive one of the license pre-approvals, according to an article at CecilDaily.com.
SunMed is led by Jacob Van Wingerden, president of Tidal Creek Growers, based in Earleville.
“We are very excited. Our team worked very hard over the last year,” Van Wingerden says, noting it has been a long wait since the company submitted an application last November.
“We’re very anxious to be able to provide high-quality medicine for the residents of Maryland. That’s what this is all about.”
Van Wingerden, who started Tidal Creek Growers in 2002, is a third-generation grower whose grandfather emigrated to America from Holland in the 1940s. Today, the Tidal Creek operation has grown to include a second facility in Davidsonville, outside the Annapolis area. Between both facilities, Tidal Creek grows more than 8 million plants a year.
Van Wingerden said that his team’s agricultural background was the centerpiece of his application to the commission. SunMed, which includes Van Wingerden and three other growers who work for him, will likely assign one grower to oversee the medical marijuana cultivation while the others help run the business.
“The growing experience of the four of us was front and center in our application,” he says.
Van Wingerden says he has made contact with growers in states where it had been legalized for medicinal or recreational use.
“That group is fairly small, so we talk and share with each other,” he says. “Now that it’s becoming mainstream and more accepted, professional companies and growers are getting involved in the industry. Growing is a science, and one with low margins, so you have to find a process that works and adhere to it.”
While his garden plant operation is located in Earleville, Van Wingerden says the medical marijuana facility will be located in Warwick at a property that is under contract for purchase. The plan is to build a 50,000-square-foot, glass-topped concrete and steel facility, surrounded by an 8-foot, razor-wire-topped fence. A security staff will be manning the facility 24/7 as well, Van Wingerden says.
SunMed’s grow facility will create new jobs as well, although Van Wingerden says he expects that the operation will start small as the state’s medical marijuana industry takes time to get started. At first, about 10 people will run the facility around the clock with plans to expand the operation as needed. He anticipates that it will be close to a year before the first crop of medical marijuana is harvested in Cecil County, as it will take at least six months to build the facility and three to four months to grow and harvest the first crop.