Getting serious about growing weed

Peter B. Gustis has staked his claim on Pennsylvania’s estimated half-billion-dollar medical marijuana industry in a vacant factory building in Reading.

Gustis, a real estate broker from West Reading, received applause and cheers when he announced his intentions at a recent City Council meeting.Gustis said he has been researching medical marijuana for three years. With the passage of Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana law in April, he’s started to line up investors. Experts say businesses will need as much as $7 or $8 million for startup costs.

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Gustis has incorporated his business, All Organic Medical Marijuana, and already has a website.He has a partner, Randy Bowen, the owner of the 125,000-square-foot, four-story former textile and paper factory, where they hope to grow and process cannabis.Gustis, a real estate broker and former candidate for West Reading mayor, sees great opportunity in the new law.”It’s going to create a lot of new industries and help a lot of people,” Gustis said.Medical marijuana in Pennsylvania could generate annual sales of $333 million to $665 million, according to a January 2015 state senate appropriations committee report. That estimate was based on a percentage of the population with 13 medical conditions. The final bill lists 17 conditions, including chronic pain.

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