Due to Department of Health regulations Northcentralpa.com is not allowed to use photos of Terrapin's operation in Jersey Shore. All photos are from legal grow sites operated by Terrapin Farms outside of Pennsylvania.
Jersey Shore, Pa. – A flash from a text message on any random Tuesday could bring a smile to the face of a Pennsylvanian in the medical marijuana program.
Somewhere across the state a dispensary will be a holding a Terrapin Tuesday event, featuring Jersey Shore grown medical marijuana. It’s a thrilling moment.
“It was both the community impact we could make and the untapped market that Pennsylvania was,” Terrapin Communications Director Peter Marcus said. “Sure enough Pennsylvania has been an incredibly successful market.”
Terrapin has made a name for itself across the country for being a top-notch grower. It has also gained a reputation for giving back to the community, caring for veterans, and pushing for the rights of medical cannabis users throughout the country.
In 2009, Chris Woods, a Penn State graduate, started Terrapin Care Station in Boulder, Colorado. Since its first year, Terrapin has grown to employ more than 250 people, but the message has remained the same since Woods invested his own money to start the company.
Terrapin's goal is to produce the highest-quality medical and, in some states, retail marijuana for patients and customers across the country. They have accomplished this by being ahead of the game.
Even outside of the marijuana profession Terrapin has set itself apart.
To keep true to its beliefs, Woods has kept the company close and tight. Terrapin's prices and products have a well-known reputation as the lowest and highest quality on the market.
With the potential growth of the industry comes the growth of business. Naturally, this means some medical marijuana companies go public.
"We have zero interest in that," Marcus said. "We are in this to last. We are in this to see it grow. This is Chris's baby. This is his love. He wanted to watch it grow and expand into more and more states."
It is rare to find a company that takes as much care into making every level of its production about doing the right thing. It might even sound cheesy, but it really is on point when describing Terrapin Care Station.
Making Its Mark in Pa
Terrapin was awarded the right to start production in Pennsylvania in 2017, beating out nearly 200 other applicants to start processing medical marijuana.
“Pennsylvania was our first true expansion,” Marcus said. “We are particularly proud of this, because at the time it was one of the most competitive application processes for a marijuana license in the country.”
The market was extremely competitive but it offered something Terrapin wanted more than the right to sell their product. It offered a future. It offered hope for an area forgotten by the surrounding communities.
Terrapin wanted to give Clinton County a chance. Clinton County, with a little pushing, wanted to be part of that chance. The County recognized the importance of Terrapin's mission. It also recognized the chance to help the community and medical patients around the state.
“We chose Pennsylvania, because we found amazing partners,” Marcus said. “We went into one of the most rural, conservative parts of Pennsylvania in Clinton County. We were a bunch of crazy kids with crazy plans to start growing marijuana in their town.”
Terrapin wanted to make an impact on Clinton County. They opted to purchase an existing warehouse for their grow site. The opted to hire veterans and people within the community. Terrapin, led by those crazy kids and their plants, wanted to make an impact on the community for the better.
“Clinton County was a left behind county when it came to economic expansion,” Marcus said. “There wasn’t a jobs pipeline in Clinton County.”
“We don’t go into any community we have to force our way into,” Marcus continued. “It never works. We’ve seen cannabis companies do it and they are never accepted.”
Terrapin hosted job fairs and built a local staff. The reached out to veterans for security. Terrapin showed Clinton County is was going to stand by its words. And just like that, Terrapin opened a door to help Pennsylvanians.
“We went into the community and were initially met with shock and awe,” Marcus said. “Very quickly it turned into us having potential to having partners that were going to support us and work with us.”
In October of 2017, Terrapin was honored by the Clinton County Economic Partnership in Pennsylvania for its stimulation of the local economy along with its commitment to helping veterans.
Terrapin has proved its willingness to help communities and veterans, but it didn't stop there for the Colorado-founded company. As a whole, 45% of its workforce is women. Terrapin works with the Cannabis Impact Fund as a founding member. The Cannabis Impact Fund helps companies in the industry advance without bias or racist training and hiring methods.
“I think a large reason we were one of the few chosen was because there was so much buy-in in this rural, conservative county in the state,” Marcus said. “If we could get buy-in here then surely the program was going to succeed.”
Terrapin has really shined with its support of veterans. VetForce, a company that employs veterans for security purposes, is the exclusive security firm for Terrapin.
One of the most unique hiring practices Terrapin has used at its Jersey Shore facility is to hire veterans as their transportation and security. Even though the marijuana is perfectly legal, it can still be dangerous to transport throughout the state.
Terrapin's products remain safe and sound as they travel with former soldiers who served their country. It’s just another way Terrapin has gone above the call to help veterans and, thanks to their efforts, medical marijuana card holders across the state.
“Who better to secure and transport our product than veterans,” Marcus said.
Along with helping to provide jobs within the Terrapin family and VetForce, Terrapin has helped fight for veterans' rights when it comes to medical marijuana.
In 2020, Terrapin received the Gold HIRE Vets Medallion in recognition for its efforts.
Along with its support of veterans, Terrapin also has taken care to minimize its impact on the planet.
The production of marijuana can be taxing on the power grid. It can also produce a lot of waste through plant leftovers all the way to packaging and distribution.
In what should be no surprise at this point, Terrapin has taken a lot of care to ship its product in jars that can be recycled at any local station.
Legal Challenges Remain
Colorado had often been the state viewed as the most progressive when it comes to medical and recreational use of cannabis. Despite the appearance of acceptance, the laws can be challenged.
One way of doing it is limiting the potency on the product. Colorado at one point wanted to cap the potency at 15% THC, which by medical or recreational standards is not a lot.
“We are seven years into sales and here we are dealing with some of the same prohibitionist type of stuff,” Marcus said. “We’re just always on our toes.”
Potential setbacks aside, with New York recently legalizing recreation use, and a Governor more than willing to back it, Pennsylvania looks like it could become an East Coast hub for legal growers.
“We are talking about significant trucking routes all through there to get to the entire state of Pennsylvania,” Marcus said. “We considered the future. There will be a day when there will be interstate commerce that will allow marijuana to go between borders. Pennsylvania is ideal.”
Terrapin is planning for the future, but after Governor Tom Wolf took a picture with a marijuana flag, the future might not be too far away.
"Of course we are always excited to see the governor or law maker in any state is understanding and acknowledging the positive impact our industry can have," Marcus said. "He's been talking about it for quite some time. Pennsylvania is Pennsylvania. We're optimistic. We're hopeful. We're also certainly not celebrating anything yet. The fight still continues and in many ways is just starting."