Shell Knob company mixes faith, cannabis

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Local group plans for medical marijuana cultivation, manufacturing facility

In the November 2018 election, there were three initiatives on the ballot regarding medical marijuana.

Dr. Lisa Roark, owner of Roark Family Health and Medical Spa, was very outspoken and interested in educating the public about the differences of the three initiatives and why she supported Amendment 2.

Nearly a year after Amendment 2 was passed, projects relating to medical marijuana are beginning to ramp up in the Cassville community.

Roark is hopeful and awaiting her approval of a dispensary license, as has continued to be a source of education when it comes to medical marijuana. She is additionally awaiting the approval or denial of a manufacturing and cultivation license to be awarded to Ozark Mountain Green, who, in Roark’s first proposal to the Cassville City Council in 2018 regarding a medical marijuana dispensary in the city, submitted a letter of support and non-opposition.

Roark plans to use product from Ozark Mountain Green to fill her dispensary once all licenses have been approved. Ozark Mountain Green is based out of Shell Knob and is a family-owned and family-run company.

Roark has mentioned that Ozark Mountain Green being a local business is one of the reasons she wants to work with them. She has also said it is important to all parts of this partnership to put patients and community first.

Joan Hunt, Ozark Mountain Green one-third equal part owner and CEO, said Roark is on the Ozark Mountain Green advisory board.

“Heath and I met Roark at a conference that we attended last year,” she said. “She became very excited because she is doing the dispensary side of things, so when Heath said we were doing cultivation and manufacturing, she was just thrilled.”

Roark was then offered a position on the advisory board, which she accepted gladly.

Heath Andres is another one-third equal part owner and director of operations of Ozark Mountain Green, and his wife, Heather Andres, is the final one-third equal part owner and managing director of Ozark Mountain Green.

“Heath and Heather have a farm in Shell Knob and they definitely wanted to do the cultivation and manufacturing of medical marijuana,” Hunt said. “We had no desire to do the dispensary, because it just didn’t make sense for us. Heath and Heather have the farmland bought and paid for, and we wanted to start there with cultivation and manufacturing.”

The relationship between Ozark Mountain Green and Dr. Lisa Roark was established well before the medical marijuana part of Ozark Mountain Green had even been pursued.

“In this industry, we are going to be successful by working together,” Heath said. “We are of like mind, and it is all about a friendly competition.”

First and foremost, Ozark Mountain Green aims to represent Christ in all that they do.

“That includes doing everything to the best of our ability and that may mean that we sacrifice a little so that we can bring everyone up at the same time,” Heath said. “We aren’t trying to climb over people to get to the top, we want to bring people up with us to make this possible.”

Hunt said she and the Andreses have been working for a year now to build this business and prepare to venture into this new field, and that work has not been paid for.

“We haven’t been paid in over a year now, we are just drilling down, working and learning as hard and as fast as we can,” Hunt said. “So many people have stepped up to the plate to help us in many ways.”

Heath Andres said it has taken more than a year to move forward with the idea that God has given them and be good stewards with his creation.

“We are going to be able to create jobs in our community,” he said. “We would like to see upward of 80 new jobs here for people in Shell Knob that we can provide.”

There will be direction from people who have regulated experience in the cannabis industry.

“We aren’t going into this blindly,” Andres said. “We are hiring top notch individuals to help advise us in developing this business.”

Heather Andres said they have been working hard the last year and are definitely not sitting on their hands now while they wait on approval for their licenses.

“We are working on backup plans and looking at the best way that we can improve the community,” she said. “We are working on finding the best ways to get this going for Shell Knob.”

Once Ozark Mountain Green is approved for the manufacturing and cultivation licenses, Andres said it will be go time.

“Once we get the licenses, we can start on construction,” she said. “We are hoping to start breaking ground in the sense of pouring some concrete and laying some ground work, so that when Dec. 31, comes along we can continue to move forward.”

Andres said she gets the sense that everyone in Missouri seems to be working together in a way, and of course, everyone is learning through the process.

“People are open to sharing — sharing information and working together,” she said.

Heath Andres added that even if Ozark Mountain Green isn’t approved initially for both licenses, they will continue to pursue them.

“We were talking to a financial consultant who was actually surprised that we were already clearing land and working as much as we have been,” Hunt said. “We said simply, ‘Of course we are,’ we are going to be prepared for any outcome, and like we said, we will continue to pursue this rather we get only one license or none.”

Having the land ready and building for this business will only help Ozark Mountain Green while moving forward.

“We won’t have to retro fit an existing facility,” Heath said. “We get to build exactly the way our directors of manufacturing and directors of cultivation say is what works for the industry.”

All of those details add up, and according to Heath Andres, will make their business a top-notch, high-end and hopefully pharmaceutical-grade facility.

“We want this to be clean and without any contaminates,” he said. “Every batch will be lab tested, and it is important to pay attention to every single detail of what we do.”

Being able to put out a quality product that will be beneficial, not harmful, and being able to prove that is a major goal for Ozark Mountain Green.

“We want this to be medicine for people,” Hunt said. “We are willing to do whatever it takes to make sure that happens.”

The size of the facility will depend on the methodology that will be used for cultivation.

“It also depends of us growing to scale,” Heath said. “We are applying for one cultivation and one manufacturing license. The cultivation license will allow us to grow at a maximum for a 30,000-square-foot flowering canopy.”

To maximize that license the grow facility would have to be around 70,000 square feet.

“At maximum capacity, I imagine we will be close to that square footage,” he said. “But at this time, it is still undetermined.”

Heath and Heather Andres have lived in Shell Knob for about six years, and prior to that, they lived in Kansas City.

“We are very faith-based, and we felt that we should be down here because we felt that God was telling us to start a farm,” Heather Andres said. “We didn’t think it was going to be a medical marijuana farm, and to be honest, three years ago we were on the other side of the fence in regards to medical marijuana.”

Heather said at the time, she didn’t see the value in marijuana, and she was closed off to learning more about it.

“That sounds really hard-headed, but I want to be completely transparent,” she said. “However, we each had a personal experience and were able to watch someone’s life be transformed by medical marijuana. When you see such a dramatic and positive difference in a life, it just changes you.”

They all quickly became passionate about medical marijuana.

“When it comes to faith and cannabis, it can be a little confusing, and that is okay,” Heather said. “With some research and praying, you will find an answer.”

The three have been advocating for medical marijuana even before it was passed in Missouri.

“We were advocating for Amendment 2 and teamed up with Lisa Roark as well,” she said. “It is an incredibly humbling experience to realize that we were so wrong about something.”

Now that the three are passionate and working toward helping other people through cultivation and manufacturing of medical marijuana, they are also very passionate in educating people about it.

“Roark has been very good at educating people in Missouri about medical marijuana and we will be doing that too,” Hunt said. “At our Chamber of Commerce meeting in a church in Shell Knob, there were people who had no idea why we were even talking about this. Knowing that they feel that way, I want to offer to speak to the congregation about the difference of using marijuana illegally verses using it under the medical marijuana card and having a doctor that has determined that using our products will be helpful to their health.”

Heath said it is also important to help teach people the context in how it should be used as well as how to properly use medical marijuana.

“It is like in carpentry, you have to teach people how to use each tool and when it should be used,” he said. “Cannabis is the same way. Everything in the world has a purpose, but people need to be educated on how to utilize it.”

Ozark Mountain Green is not just about providing jobs or providing medicine. Heath Andres said they encourage their employees to reach out and volunteer in their communities.

“I want to say that a frustrating thing that we have faced in the last year of meetings is some people who are getting into this business for the wrong reasons,” Joan said. “I have heard people say that they are going to start the business just to flip it. They come into Missouri and build something up just to sell it and move to another state. That is really disheartening to me, but between us and Roark, I believe we can build this and stay here in Missouri.

“We are Missourians, we represent Missouri and we are going the distance to be here for our fellow persons here in the state of Missouri.”

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