The Buckhannon-Upshur Chamber of Commerce hosted an official ribbon-cutting ceremony for Armory Pharmaceutical, Inc. which will focus on the production of medical marijuana. / Photo by Monica Zalaznik

Medical marijuana facility opens doors in Upshur County, hoping to provide a natural remedy for common ailments

BUCKHANNON – Armory Pharmaceutical, Inc. invited the Buckhannon-Upshur community to tour their new $10 million facility during an official ribbon-cutting ceremony Tuesday.

As its name suggests, Armory Pharmaceutical has found a headquarters and a home inside the completely newly renovated former National Guard Armory Facility on Route 20 South in Tennerton, just outside Buckhannon city limits.

Armory Pharmaceutical opened its doors on June 28 and aims to be a new kind of pharmaceutical company that produces medical marijuana for West Virginians. According to the company’s website, its mission is to “create botanically based, globally available medicines that provide health care options which can change people’s lives for the better.”

Rob Hinton, the former Upshur County Development Authority executive director and a current member of Armory Pharmaceutical’s board of directors, said this project was planned over several years, back when he was the director of the Upshur County Development Authority.

“This has been a long time coming; a lot of the things in my previous role as executive director that we did, sometimes you don’t see the fruits of those labor until many years down the road,” Hinton said. “It’s exciting to still be a part of this organization and be a part of what is going to transpire today and into the future.”

Hinton said Armory Pharmaceutical approached him about a year into his role as executive director for the UCDA and the plan has evolved since then.

“What turned out to be something that was going to be hemp and CBD and you’re not really sure where this is going to go and you’re not really sure if this was the right fit for our community turned out to be something pretty fascinating and pretty amazing,” Hinton said. “Armory Pharmaceuticals is not your typical cannabis company; it is actually a pharmaceutical company.”

Upshur County Development Authority director Jennifer Bostian said the purpose of their organization is to facilitate economic growth by inviting companies like Armory Pharmaceutical to find a home in Upshur County.

“Armory Pharmaceuticals has invested well over $10 million in this facility to renovate and modernize it to produce medical cannabis, which is its first stage here in Upshur County,” Bostian said. “The second stage will grow toward the development and production of future pharmaceuticals based on its expertise in medical cannabis, and workforce development now is at the front and center of economic development.”

They also plan to train local people to work in the new facility.

“Armory Pharmaceutical has come in prepared with a four-prong approach to developing its workforce,” Bostian explained. “It’s going start with an experienced team to come in here and get this facility up and going, producing its product and then we’ll hire and train replacements over the next four or five months. It will also develop its dispensary workforce from here and finally hire and train a research and development team for the pharmaceutical products that will eventually come from this facility.”

Bostian said entry-level jobs will start in the range of $35,000 to $45,000 annually, and middle management positions will pay approximately $60,000 to $85,000 a year.

County commissioner Sam Nolte said he didn’t know if they would ever be standing here to see the project come to fruition.

“We’re lucky to have one of 10 locations in West Virginia that was chosen for Upshur County, and I can’t believe the transformation that we’ve seen on Route 20 and the investment that has been put in – a $10 million investment for a building that we were trying to figure out what was going be here,” Nolte said. “We tried everything and thought of all different options, and this was actually not really what I was thinking, but I am super excited that it is here. I’m excited for the potential new job opportunities here in Upshur County and I really appreciate the investment that you guys are making here.”

Mayor Robbie Skinner said he was glad to see this level of progress in the Upshur County community.

“We’re so grateful because, throughout Appalachia, we see the news of businesses closing, jobs eliminated, factories sitting vacant, and if you go to the Northern Panhandle of West Virginia, you see that and if you go to the southern coalfields, you see that, but here in Central West Virginia, in the heart of the state, we’re welcoming new jobs – not relocated jobs, not repurposed jobs, but new jobs,” Skinner said. “Through Rob’s leadership, and through the leadership of Jennifer, look at what they have done for this community, we have a brand-new building on Main Street, we have another pharmaceutical company that’s going to be going in on the west side of town and we’ve seen small businesses [start up and grow] through the Small Business Administration.”

He said Upshur County and Buckhannon are thriving with successful businesses and entities.

“We have a beautiful Main Street – you won’t find a prettier Main Street in West Virginia – and we’re very proud of that, but there’s substance here and there’s an economy here,” Skinner said. “We have a thriving hospital, we have a thriving college located at each end of Main Street and now we have this anchoring the south part of our town. I’m so proud to be the mayor and to be part of this.”

Sen. Bill Hamilton, R-11, said initially he did not support the bill, allowing Armory Pharmaceutical to set up shop, but he has since changed his mind.

“With the information that was disseminated to me, I decided that this is a good thing to do for our citizens of West Virginia,” Hamilton said. “I’m happy to see everybody here today, supporting this new business in our community. I’m also happy to see that our fellow West Virginians who suffer from chronic pain and other ailments have a new place that offers hope for relief by using safe, natural methods. We’ve lost too many friends, family members and neighbors to the raging opioid epidemic in this state and finally, through places like Armory Pharmaceutical, we will start to show there are other alternatives and that they’re easily available.”

Michael Garcia with Senator Joe Manchin’s office also read a statement on behalf of the senator.

“On behalf of the citizens of the Mountain State and as your United States Senator, it is my distinct honor to join you in celebrating the ribbon-cutting and grand opening of Armory Pharmaceutical in beautiful Buckhannon, West Virginia,” Garcia read aloud. “Through the research, development and production of products for both the federally regulated and prescription drug markets, this facility aims to bring innovative, life-changing medicine to the people of West Virginia by providing quality health care options to residents.”

“Armory Pharmaceutical will undoubtedly benefit the community in countless ways for many years to come and I’m honored to lend my voice of support for this valuable addition to the region,” the letter continued. “I truly appreciate the Armory team members for all their responsibilities that they’ve taken on to get to this point and make the celebration possible. Being part of small business culture is something I’ve had my whole life, and I can attest that there is no more challenging or rewarding endeavor. Thank you for your tireless commitment to strengthening our economy and hosting today’s meet and greet and inviting the public to take a glimpse at this extraordinary facility.”

To learn more about Armory Pharmaceutical Inc., or API, check out their website here.

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