Andy Poticha of Cannabis Facility Construction tours a dispensary renovation job underway. Credit: Submitted / Cannabis Facility Construction

As more states legalize adult-use and medical cannabis sales, more companies want specialized facilities to cultivate, package, and process their products. This has opened up a big opportunity for construction firms.

“This is an industry that is evolving and the construction is evolving along with that process,” said Andy Poticha of Cannabis Facility Construction. “Many of these people know how to grow a few plants but they don’t necessarily know what it’s like to grow, you know, ten fifteen, twenty, thirty thousand square feet of canopy of plants, and what goes into a job, to taking care of those on that scale.”

Although the rules vary state by state, dispensaries often require extensive security, while cultivation facilities require close attention to room size, shape, air flow, and lighting.

Poticha’s company recently completed work on a trio of dispensaries in Massachusetts, Michigan, and Missouri on behalf of Justice Cannabis. A few years ago, Illinois-based cannabis company Grassroots reached out to Poticha to build a few dispensaries. Later, cannabis giant Curaleaf acquired Grassroots giving CFC an opportunity to expand to other states.

“They said to us, we know we don’t know what we’re doing in this space, and we’re pretty sure you don’t know what you’re doing in the space, but we’ll figure it out together because you’re a trusted design-build partner,” said Poticha. “They decided to become an MSO and took us along with him for the ride. So over the course of the last six years, we’ve done over 70 projects in twelve states.”

CFC is a subsidiary of Mosaic, which also does construction for more traditional commercial properties, residential work. Poticha’s experience with this work, specifically high-end residential work in old structures that are still occupied, has made cannabis construction seem a lot easier than it could be.

“In most cases when we’re talking about existing buildings, we’re basically building a building within a building,” he said. “We’re building an environment with an existing shell and you know, that’s much easier to do than having to work around things while remodeling a structure of any kind.”

Now that CFC has worked with local regulators in 12 states, dealing with zoning rules has become easier in general, as more and more communities allow legal cannabis facilities.

“I think that there were absolutely some jurisdictions out there that really didn’t care for the fact that they had cannabis in their community. I’m not so sure that some of that didn’t influence some of the comments that we had and some of the questioning [from officials] that we had but at the end of the day as long as it’s in the rule book, we have to abide by it.”

Poticha specifically praised authorities in Massachusetts for being willing to work with his company on construction projects.

“The state commission actually called us up and had some questions for me, with regards to how they might be able to improve restrictions and be more clear as to what would be required for best practices when it came to facilities, which I thought was great,” he said. “They were looking for a collaborative approach with people that actually know the engine and people that are actually working in the industry so that you could have practical solutions to real life scenarios.”

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Zack cut his journalistic teeth covering high school sports in the south before spending a decade covering local government, politics and the courts in the Boston, Massachusetts area. He's previously written...