KEARNEYSVILLE, W.Va. (WV News) — Harvest Care Medical, one of the eight companies issued cultivation licenses for West Virginia’s journey into the medical cannabis marketplace, is excited to move forward with the first stage, according to Dustin Freas, one of the principals of the business.
Freas’ father, William Freas, is the CEO of Harvest Care Medical, which earned a license to operate a cultivation site in Kearneysville, Jefferson County. They have also been working to potentially locate a site in Harrison County, outside Bridgeport.
“We’re excited and ready to go to work,” Dustin Freas said by phone Friday after learning of his company’s winning proposal.
“We’re very well-prepared,” he said, mentioning his team’s depth and experience, which he said has brought success in a multiple state marketplace that is primarily for medicinal purposes.
Freas, who is from Cumberland, Maryland, said he and his family hope medical cannabis does for West Virginia what it has done for other areas.
“We’ve been tremendously successful,” Freas said of helping to revitalize the economy in Cumberland and elsewhere.
Referring specifically to the Cumberland operation, Freas said the effort there created 8,200 construction jobs and now has 90 full-time employees.
“We stepped into an area of very high unemployment and created those jobs, putting great local people back to work with good-paying jobs and benefits,” Freas said.
“It’s about creating a tax base, the construction jobs and the full-time jobs,” he said. “It’s all about the community and making it better. That’s why we’re so excited, because we see the potential in West Virginia.”
Freas said he’s also proud because the operation planned in Jefferson County is West Virginia-based, with West Virginians, including his father, working to help their fellow West Virginians.
“What makes me most proud are the West Virginia partners we have at the table that came together to make this happen,” Freas said. “They see the need, especially with the opioid crisis, to offer scientifically developed pain alternatives.”
Freas said he, his father and others bring “health-care infrastructure” to the medical cannabis industry.
“We’ve been in this phase for about 6-7 years,” he said. “We are health-care providers. We are a health-care family. Because we deal with patients experiencing high levels of pain, we view it as medicine.”
Freas mentioned the excitement of seeing a child with epilepsy successfully treated or a cancer patient, unable to eat because of the side effects of chemotherapy, being able to fight the nausea with cannabis.
“It is real health care for people who need it,” he said.
While Harvest Care Medical will begin to move forward immediately on its cultivation location, it’s also in consideration for processing and dispensary licenses as well.
Explaining that it’s a three-step process — grow, create the medicinal form and then distribute — Freas said Harvest Care Medical also hopes to land processing and dispensing rights in West Virginia, as the company has been successful in all three areas of operation with other businesses in other markets.
“This is the first step of hopefully three,” Freas said. “And this has happened by the grace of God and a lot of great people coming together.”
As for expanding to the Bridgeport area for a second location, Freas hopes that’s possible in the future.
“We may have the ability (according to state regulations as they currently stand),” he said. “Right now we will be focused to market with the highest level of quality in Jefferson County. But as we ramp this thing up, I’d love nothing more to see than to do some type of satellite operation in Bridgeport.
“We love Jefferson County and have great relationships there. But I’d love to be able to do something for Bridgeport and Harrison County.”