KLINE TOWNSHIP -- A greenhouse business in Schuylkill County wants to put its expertise growing plants to new use growing medical marijuana.
The state legalized the medicinal use of the drug in April and soon plans to give permits to growers.
Van Hoekelen Greenhouse near McAdoo has been a growing business for nearly 30 years. Starting as one small greenhouse, it now has several with acres of plants and hundreds of employees.
But a new business may be blossoming for the owners growing medical marijuana.
"Right off the bat, we figured we do agriculture really well. Can we apply that to this new industry?" said Alex Van Hoekelen.
The family plans to apply for a medical marijuana grower permit when applications open up, likely in a few months.
The idea is to start a separate company called Therabloom, begin growing medical marijuana, and bring a whole new industry to the McAdoo area.
"It will bring good paying jobs. There is room for growth, for education, room for people to develop careers out of this industry."
The owners hope that people in the community keep an open mind. They have two simple goals with growing medical marijuana. One, that it helps patients who need it. Two, that it is done in a greenhouse space where it is environmentally friendly.
"This has to be looked at as a favorable medicine. I think it can prohibit some of the heroin addiction that is around," said controller Pat Frier.
A woman in McAdoo has used medical marijuana for pain management of a spinal injury.
"It takes away the pain so I can be more productive. It helps my brain think clearer."
For years, she has traveled out of state to use medical marijuana.
"It would be a life changer," she said, about having a local greenhouse providing medical marijuana.
Pennsylvania will only give out 25 permits for growing medical marijuana, but the people at Van Hoekelen Greenhouse believe they have a good chance to get one of them by early next year.