FARRELL — The FarmaceuticalRx team is confident its new medical marijuana facility will serve as a remedy for more than just patients suffering from health-related issues.
Paul Crowder, the company’s vice president of operations, said the $3 million project could also help find a cure for the economic fallout from Farrell’s decaying steel industry.
“For Farrell, this is more important than the medicine,” Crowder said. “The community needed jobs, and we’re excited to create jobs.”
FRX has promised to create 30 to 40 jobs in Farrell by mid-November, with more to come. Crowder said he was pleasantly surprised by the massive turnout at Thursday’s job fair at the Farrell VFW.
“Hardworking, blue-collar people is one of the reasons we chose Farrell,” he said. “The steel and brick industry may have gone away, but it created a great work ethic.”
The Farrell location on 660 and 680 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. will serve as the corporate headquarters and main campus. Crowder said the headquarters could house up to 250 employees if product demand meets expectations.
The job fair accepted applications for everything from chemists and growers to security and lawn and maintenance to join their team of organic chemists, master growers and research scientists.
Crowder noted that many available positions require no previous experience or a college degree.
“There is no college that gives you a degree in medical marijuana,” he said. “We’re looking at the quality of individual — a positive, energetic person who is willing to learn.”
The company plans to promote 80 percent from within the company, Crowder said, meaning that many folks who walked through the door for the job fair Thursday would end up as FRX’s next supervisors and managers.
“We just need teachable people,” he said. “If you can make steel, you can do this. What we’re doing is way easier.”
Crowder said roughly 60 percent of FRX customers are pain patients but that medical marijuana can be used to treat countless conditions — including post traumatic stress disorder.
“That’s one of the main reasons we chose to hold (the job fair) at the VFW”, Crowder said. “When we started the company, 22 veterans a day were dying from suicide. That’s unacceptable.”
The FRX team also plans to research whether medical marijuana could be an effective tool to fight the opioid crisis.
“There is anecdotal evidence coming from out west that suggests (medical marijuana) could help,” he said. “There hasn’t been any actual research, but we want to do some true research to find out what is true and what isn’t, and what kind of dosages and treatments could be used.”
Crowder said he and his team are aware of two of the main concerns with the medical marijuana facility moving to the Shenango Valley: security and an influx of drugs moving into the community.
FRX has poured $300,000 into its security system and hired former Marine Chris Marshall as its head of security.
“Security here will be tighter than a casino,” Crowder said. “The state has rigorous requirements on security, and it will be no different than a prescription drug facility. It’s the same process — we’re making medicine.”
As for marijuana and its stigma as a dangerous drug, Crowder simply asked folks to “do their research.”
“If you are worried about more drugs coming into the valley, I’d ask you to research how this medicine works for cancer patients,” he said. “People might reconsider after they see how it affects quality of life. After that, they might see that their view is worth changing.”
Follow Quinn Schwartz on Twitter @Herald_Quinn or email him at email@example.com.