CUMBERLAND — Grow West officials report experiencing steady growth during the COVID-19 outbreak, with the medical cannabis grower quadrupling its workforce since beginning operations two years ago.
A medical marijuana producer, Grow West is owned by the Valois family. The owners set up an extensive grow operation in the former Kelly-Springfield Tire Co. complex on Kelly Road in March 2018. In July 2019, they opened the Grow West Cannabis Co. Dispensary at 1096 W. Industrial Blvd. in South Cumberland. The company recently added curbside pickup to service its patients during the pandemic.
Susan Valois, Grow West president, and William Valois, CEO, participated in a recent interview via video conferencing.
William Valois said the company began with 18 employees in the spring of 2018 and has grown to a staff of nearly 90. He said the company was fortunate to be considered essential by the state, allowing it to remain open since the start of the coronavirus outbreak.
“We feel very honored to be able to operate during this time,” William Valois said. “It is very trying on people in all walks of life just mentally being forced to stay inside their house for all this time.
“People are worried about if things are going to close down and things. Demand has definitely increased during this (outbreak) and we want to help and support the community,” he said. “Because this is medicine and it’s helping people, just like CVS or any other pharmacy, during this time people want to make sure they have the right tools to help them through it.”
Susan Valois said the testimonials provided to Grow West by people who have benefited from the medication are a constant inspiration.
“This medicine has changed lives and we hear it every day,” she said. “We feel very fortunate and we will remain committed to keep our grow facility and dispensary up and running to provide safe, reliable service and products allowing patients in Maryland to continue to be provided with an effective medication.”
She said people utilizing the dispensary’s curbside service call in their prescription and are able to have it brought to them without having to leave their vehicle. In addition, she said the dispensary will soon be outfitted with a full-service drive-thru lane.
“We’ve closed the indoor sales and we do only curbside and we are finishing our new state-of-the-art drive-thru service,” she said. “We have been working hand-in-hand with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Commission and we’ll be offering the service pretty soon. I think it will make it very easy to access. I think that is looking toward the future as well. Understanding the present challenges and how business will be conducted in the future we are facilitating a permanent solution. I think a lot of people are going to be using that well into the future.”
The Valois family has instituted discounts during the crisis and has made donations to the Western Maryland Food Bank of nearly $5,000.
“We made large donations to the food bank during this event because we figured a lot of people are going to go without money for a while so anything we can do, we want to do it,” William Valois said. “We had a large amount of PPE (personal protective equipment), which we donated to certain health care facilities as well other individuals who didn’t have anything.”
The family is currently exploring plans to expand the Kelly Road grow facility.
“We’ve been very fortunate to be recognized as a central business and we thank the community for their overwhelming support as well as our Grow West team who is dedicated to our mission,” said Susan Valois. “We know people are facing hardship and we want to be there doing what we can.”
Follow staff writer Greg Larry on Twitter @GregLarryCTN.