SAXTON -- Green Leaf Medical LLC has applied for a permit from the Pennsylvania Department of Health to open a medical cannabis growing and processing facility at the former site of Seton Co.
Green Leaf is a medical marijuana company based out of Maryland.
Its website says the company will produce flower, trim and whole plants that will be available to dispensaries and processors throughout Maryland.
Bedford County Development Association President Bette Slayton said Green Leaf now plans to bring its business model to Central Pennsylvania.
"What's exciting about this is that it brings pharmaceutical manufacturing types of jobs to the area, which is a growth industry," Slayton said.
The health department closed its application process March 20, and Slayton said she expects the company to hear whether the permit is awarded within 90 to 100 days.
Slayton said Green Leaf is so optimistic that its leaders have already begun the process of purchasing the property.
The property has sat vacant for almost a decade, and the development association has marketed the property for years with no buyers until Green Leaf.
Saxton Mayor Alan Smith said Seton Co. once employed about 1,000 people, adding, "Its closing was a tremendous loss."
"They were the heart and soul of Saxton for many, many years. They were a very good employer," Slayton said.
Smith said that with Central Pennsylvania's addiction epidemic, the distinction between recreational and medical marijuana is crucial to keep support from central Pennsylvanians.
He said he supports Green Leaf because it will produce a product that is "highly regulated," and that is expected to drastically boost the local economy.
State law allows doctors to prescribe cannabis to patients with "serious medical conditions."
Under the statute, those conditions include cancer, autism, Crohn's disease, epilepsy, Parkinson's disease, post-traumatic stress disorder and several others.
According to the department of health, studies have shown that medical marijuana can assist patients suffering from certain serious medical conditions by alleviating pain and improving their quality of life.
Slayton expects Green Leaf to bring many other related businesses, including label companies, to the area after its opening.
She said Green Leaf has agreed to subdivide and lease portions of the 270,000-square-foot property to other companies as well.