Photo Credit: HARMONY DISPENSARY
Shaya Brodchandel, CEO of Harmony Dispensary, is sitting in a consultation room in the Secaucus facility when there’s a knock on the door and one of his employees pokes her head in.
The New Jersey Department of Weights and Measures is on the phone with questions about some of the month-old dispensary’s scales.
“There’s a tremendous amount of compliance,” Brodchandel says. “Everything we do is transparent and regulated by the Department of Health. We have full standard operating procedures for everything from what you do when you walk into the facility every step of the way til you walk out of the facility. Everything needs to be reviewed and approved by the state. If you say I walk in this way through this door than you have to comply with that.
“There’s a lot of regulation and procedures for what happens over the course of a day. For instance, all the scales need to be certified – each scale that we use, because we’re weighing the medicine for the patients – you can’t use any scale, you have to use a certified scale. The details are endless.”
It’s just another day in the life of operating a medical marijuana enterprise.
One that has been a long time coming.
Harmony, just over a month old, was the last of the six original medicinal marijuana operations in New Jersey to open its doors. Originally called Foundation Harmony, the business was approved in March 2011. However, final financial and criminal background checks were not completed until July 2017; the application come under intense scrutiny after a Star-Ledger investigation uncovered bankruptcies among two members, and ties to a cannabis training school in Colorado whose medical adviser faced fraud allegations in New York.
Brodchandel came on board in 2013 after working in the radio-pharmaceuticals industry – he designed and built a plant for the production of nuclear medicine injectables.
“There’s been a lot of challenges and hurdles,” Brodchandel says. “It’s been a long time and good things take time.”
Business at the 600 Meadowlands Parkway, Suite 15, location is growing along with the entire medicinal marijuana program. The state is adding 100 patients a day to the program and just announced that six more facilities will be added to the program.
“We have a location that is high in population, and people are currently driving to other locations that are farther away,” he says. “Our first target are patients that are in our area within a 10-mile radius. There are no deliveries, so the only access is someone comes here. For patients or caregivers who have a hard time even coming here, to travel an even farther distance is not in their best interest.”
The grow facility is what Brodchanel takes pride in.
“We grow very differently, he explains. “We utilize a comprehensive manufacturing with robotics-equipped machinery that produces consistent, clean medicine.”
The cannabis plants spend their entire life on a conveyor belt that moves them through the two-level manufacturing facility. Using precise control of lighting, environment, irrigation and nutrients, Harmony harvests every day in the warehouse that’s located behind the dispensary.
“Every day we have a harvest – like a bakery everyday has a fresh batch of baked goods, we do that consistently through our growing. Our overall consistency is much, much higher than a typical grow,” Brodchandel says.
Even though Harmony just opened, Brodchandel has his eye on the future. He’s already looking for a new facility to expand the grow operation and is eager for the state to allow more forms of product.
“I see us going into product manufacturing – making edibles, extracts, oils, tinctures, lozenges, topicals, things of that nature to provide patients a variety of how to use the medicine – not just smoking the flower. Other ways to administer the medicine.”
When asked to look back at the long road to opening: What do you know now that you wish you knew then?
Brodchandel says with a laugh, “That it would take five years.”