US (OK): Local growing, processing, dispensing operation plans statewide expansion

A group of people involved with a Muskogee-based cannabis conglomerate have been working behind the scenes for months preparing to take the state’s new, but rapidly growing, industry “to the next level.”

Oklahoma Natural Grass will debut on July 18 the first of two local dispensaries it plans to open this month. Todd Mitchem, chief executive officer and principle partner of ONG and Herbal Wellness Extracts, said patients will be introduced to dispensaries with a “spa, health and wellness setting.”

Customers will enter a lobby area, where they will wait before being ushered into the dispensary two or three at a time, Mitchem said that will allow trained budtenders to provide patients personal consultation about the company’s organic products — locally grown and processed — by a team assembled of “people who transplanted here from other states” and local residents. 

Mitchem said the company presently employs about 16 people — about 75 percent was hired locally — and another 10 are expected to be added to the payroll by August. With the addition of its wholesale distribution operation, Mitchem said the company expects to have 80 to 90 employees on its local payroll by this time next year with hourly wages ranging from $11 to $35 depending upon the skills required for the position. 

“We’re like a small factory, bringing 100 jobs to town,” said Patrick Cale, a principle partner and state license holder. “And that, to me, is one of the biggest wins for Muskogee.”

Cale initially opposed the state question that legalized medical marijuana. Once voters approved the measure with 57 percent support statewide — Muskogee County voters expressed support in similar fashion — Cale recognized the business opportunity and told himself and investors, “Let’s do this thing right.”


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