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Economy

Orchid Ventures Places Big Bet On Calexico And The Legal Marijuana Market

A marijuana plant is shown in this undated photo.
Kris Arciaga
A marijuana plant is shown in this undated photo.

Orchid Ventures is an Orange County company that has marijuana retail stores and cultivation centers in California and Oregon. But nothing as big as the plant it says will soon sprout in Calexico.

When complete, the company's cultivation facility will be a veritable factory for marijuana growing. Company spokesmen say there will be 220,000 square feet of indoor cultivation space, employing 400 people and producing more than 12,000 pounds of marijuana per month.

Orchid Ventures Places Big Bet On Calexico And The Legal Marijuana Market
Listen to this story by Tom Fudge.

Why build in Calexico?

"The entire building will be operated on its own solar farm and power banks. The rent cost, electricity cost and tax rates will make Orchid one of the lowest-cost cultivation facilities that we've ever seen," said George Mattia, CEO of Greenbloom Cannabis Co., which held the Calexico project as an asset before selling it to Orchid Ventures.

Corey Mangold is the CEO of Orchid Ventures. And he is high on the legal marijuana market.

"The legal market has a lot of room to grow, and that's why we're doing this in California at this time," he said. "Because the demand is absolutely insane."

A spokesman for Orchid Ventures said the company will make a capital investment of $6 million to create its factory for producing marijuana.

Despite his optimism, Mangold said there is a problem with the legal market in California. It's being undercut by illegal marijuana businesses, which don't pay taxes or meet the same requirements. Surveys have shown that black market marijuana is still preferred by California consumers because the pot is unregulated and therefore cheaper.

Mangold said he hopes the state of California will provide more funding to try to put the black market out of business.

"It's the funding of enforcement. Getting rid of the illegal players. Obviously that involves busts and detective work and a lot of things that the police agencies need at their disposal that they have not been given by the state," he said.

Orchid Venture's Calexico marijuana factory will open in two phases. Company spokesmen said it will be completed by the end of 2020.