Medical pot jobs fair draws many hopefuls

Morning Journal/Jo Ann Bobby-Gilbert Cassandra Maffey, head of cultivation for FRX Health, takes a few minutes to pet Mossy the pug during a jobs fair in East Liverpool, where turnout was high by those hoping to work for the new medical marijuana operation.

EAST LIVERPOOL — A jobs fair was held Wednesday to recruit employees for a new medical marijuana operation starting up in the city with non-stop interviews conducted at 10-15 minute intervals from morning until evening.

Officials for FRX Health, formerly FarmaceuticalRX, expressed their surprise at the large turnout and their excitement at the obvious interest in the new enterprise which should bring at least 100 jobs to the city.

According to Paul Crowder, vice president of operations, positions from part-time dishwashers and cooks to pharmaceutical technicians and organic chemists are needed for the operation, which at this time includes processing marijuana into medical forms and dispensing those medications.

The company is awaiting word on whether it will also be awarded a cultivation license.

Crowder admitted there is not a huge pool of candidates for the jobs at this point because the medical marijuana industry is new to Ohio, so unless people come in from other states where it has been legal for awhile, “there won’t be a lot of experienced people.”

For this reason, those hired by FRX will also be trained by the company, with Crowder saying, “We want them to learn our ways. and we want to hire the right person to teach them the right way.”

He said a priority in hiring will be finding those employees who have a desire to take care of people, emphasizing, “Because that’s what we want to do.”

Initially, the company anticipates hiring 15 for the dispensary, which is currently being renovated on Dresden Avenue and is expected to open for business within the next two weeks.

As the processing facility gets under way in the former Ferro Corporation building on Harvey Avenue, another 20-30 people will be put on the payroll, according to Crowder, who said, “If we get our cultivation license, we will hire another 40 to 50.”

If the cultivation license is awarded to FRX, it will be growing marijuana organically in soil, not hydroponically, which is more common in the industry, Crowder said.

A master grower will be in place to make sure the product is grown pesticide-free, with Crowder pointing out the company does not want to produce marijuana aimed at healing people that was grown with potentially harmful products such as insecticides.

Crowder said he expects a few “key” people to be hired within two to four weeks for the processing facility, with others brought on board by February or March — such as cooks for the edible medical marijuana which has been approved.

He said contractors should be on site at the Harvey Avenue location next week to begin painting, cleaning and scrubbing that facility in preparation for the processing operation.

Crowder said the quality of work performed by the local contractors hired thus far for work on the dispensary has been “phenomenal,” saying, “We’re excited to get it open.”

The state of Ohio has done an “amazing job of rolling out the program,” by making the viewpoint one of medicine and not of recreation and by putting it under the governance of the state Board of Pharmacy and Department of Commerce, Crowder said.

FRX also wanted to maintain that viewpoint and chose to have a pharmacist operating its dispensary, rather than a nurse, which is permitted by law. Joe Jeffries has been named the pharmacy director.

Crowder said he was “so happy” with the diversity shown by the crowd of hopefuls who showed up for the job fair, pointing out a wide range in ages and work experience, saying, “There was a lot of interest in being involved in this industry.”

Rebecca Myers of FRX said the company is launching a similar site in Ferrell, Pa., where the cultivation team can be trained, if the company is awarded a license in Ohio. Dispensary employees will be trained locally, while those in the processing end could be flown to FRX’s partner in Oregon for training.