Local civic group approves plans for NE marijuana facility

In the waning days of his life, Flyers founder and chairman Ed Snider sought pain relief from weed.

Nearing the end of his long battle with cancer, Snider wasn’t getting the relief he needed or deserved from conventional medications, according to his daughter, herself a cancer survivor.

“He was taking enough opioids to kill an elephant,” Lindy Snider told about 100 Parkwood residents during a community meeting on Wednesday night. “It made him stop eating. It made him loopy. And it was a terrible way to live out his life.”

One day, the family convinced him to try an alternative treatment for his symptoms — medical marijuana. The drug helped alleviate his pain and gastrointestinal problems and improved his frame of mind, Lindy said. Ed Snider passed away last April 11. He was 83.

Hearing that powerful testimonial, members of the Parkwood Civic Association unanimously endorsed a plan by two of Snider’s children and his grandchild to build a 125,000-square-foot medical marijuana growing and processing plant in the Far Northeast.

As first reported by the Northeast Times in advance of the community meeting, the Sniders plan to apply for one of 12 grower-processor or “GP” licenses that may be issued by the Pennsylvania Department of Health under the state’s Medical Marijuana Act, enacted last year. Two of those licenses may be issued in the state’s southeast region.

Lindy Snider and representatives for her company, Snider Health, said they want to build their facility in Philadelphia to extend the family’s longstanding commitment to the city. They propose to build the plant on a 14-acre, wooded, industrial-zoned parcel at 14515 McNulty Road. It’s at the end of a cul-de-sac in the Byberry East Industrial Park. The Philadelphia Authority for Industrial Development owns the land.

Snider Health must submit an application to the Department of Health by March 20. Licenses may be awarded this summer. The state will expect licensees to “hit the ground running” and be operational within six months, Lindy Snider said.

Lindy’s brother and former Flyers president Jay Snider is a co-founder of Snider Health, as is Jay’s son Jamie. Cancer has hit the family hard. In 2014, the disease claimed the life of Jay and Lindy’s mother Myrna, who was 78.

In 2015, Lindy told the Inquirer that she first began investigating the possibilities of medical marijuana to help her ailing mother when clinically proven painkillers didn’t seem to alleviate her pain. Cannabis helped Myrna Snider sleep, Lindy said.

Lindy then founded a company that produces skincare products for cancer patients. She wanted to determine if cannabis-based skin applications could prove beneficial.

During Wednesday’s meeting, Parkwood residents asked Lindy Snider and representatives for Snider Health about the marijuana business’ potential impact on the community. City Councilman Brian O’Neill, whose 10th district includes the proposed site, began the meeting by endorsing the proposal.

“It’s not low-risk. There’s no risk at all. I’m very comfortable with it,” O’Neill said.

The company would grow and process marijuana on site, extracting its medicinal properties and converting them into pill or liquid form. Under state law, grower-processors cannot sell marijuana in plant form and cannot sell any products directly to consumers. GPs may only market to other GPs or licensed dispensaries.

Lindy Snider said that most of the McNulty Road facility would be set up as a greenhouse, with processing operations also contained there. The facility would operate under state-mandated security, product labeling and delivery guidelines.

Snider Health would partner with an 18-year-old Colorado firm, The Clinic, to operate the facility.

It would operate seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and employ 40 to 50 people on site. There would be two delivery vans leaving the property daily.

“They’re decent-paying jobs. Forty to fifty jobs is nothing to laugh at,” O’Neill said. Security will be “like Fort Knox.”

The business would need no city zoning approvals because the land is already zoned for industrial use. The Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation has been actively marketing the land to businesses for years.

One resident asked company officials why they want to clear wooded land for a new building rather than taking over an existing, unoccupied building elsewhere. Lindy Snider said it would be difficult to retrofit an existing building for the company’s specific use. They don’t plan to use the entire 14-acre parcel and would build the facility in phases over time. The company intends to use union labor for construction.

Another neighbor asked about potential harmful byproducts from the process. Lindy Snider said that it’s an organic process and she’s unaware of any contaminants. The plants would be grown in pots or isolated beds. They would not be planted in the ground. The process would leave behind a plant-based pulp. Snider said the company intends to employ green technology to maximize the site’s energy efficiency and reduce costs.

“We’re excited about the possibility of doing a greenhouse here,” she said. ••