Many questions asked and answered at Coil Bros public outreach hearing

Representatives of Coil Brothers Concentrates, a cannabis processing company looking to locate in Harvard, introduced themselves, outlined their business plan, and answered questions from the public at their community outreach meeting Sept. 11 in the Town Hall meeting room. Chief Operating Officer Matthew Brace did most of the speaking, though the other five company representatives chimed in as appropriate. Most of the approximately two dozen attendees at the meeting were Harvard residents.

According to the presentation, Coil Brothers is a manufacturing business, which will receive shipments of raw cannabis, extract the cannabinoid oils from the plant, and sell the oils wholesale to other marijuana businesses. The proposed 3,500-square-foot facility, would be located in the Appleworks Building at 325 Ayer Road. According to Brace, these oils can be used for research and testing, as well as a variety of retail products (such as vape pens, topicals, and nasal sprays). Brace predicted that the business would have a low impact on the town, as the lack of retail customers means little traffic traveling to and from the building. While Coil Brothers currently has no other facilities, Brace stated that the company’s long-term goals include opening additional businesses in Vermont and Maine.

Responding to questions from Harvard resident Lucas Thayer, of South Shaker Road, Coil Brothers representatives said they expect to receive shipments of around 20 pounds of raw cannabis less than once a day, which their processes will consume at a rate of 6 to 12 pounds per day. Finished product will be stored in canisters on the premises, while waste (which Brace described as “concentrated vegetable protein”) will be mixed with earth, stored in metal containers, and eventually shipped out. Furthermore, according to Brace, the vehicles delivering to the facility would not be large trucks, as the quantities involved would be too small to warrant that.

Brace repeatedly emphasized the medical benefits of cannabis oils like the ones that Coil Brothers hopes to produce. Both he and Stephen Mandile, the company’s security advisor and community liaison, an Iraq War veteran, have used medical marijuana to wean themselves from opioid drugs that they had previously relied on to manage severe pain. Brace stated, “We are making medicine here” and promised to partner with distribution programs to make part of their product available to veterans.

New entrance for Appleworks

According to the presentation, Coil Brothers intends to modify the Appleworks building to include a side entrance with a secure vestibule to safely handle shipments of carbon dioxide, which is used in their processing. Following questions by Planning Board Chair Erin McBee, Brace said that this is necessary due to the regulations on the transport of carbon dioxide through shared indoor spaces, and that this entrance would also handle other pickups and delivery for the company.

Many audience members, including Select Board member Alice von Loesecke, asked Brace to describe the sounds and odors the extraction process would produce. Coil Brothers’ biochemist Carolyn Burek stated that, based on her time at a similar operation in Colorado, there would be virtually no noise or odor. Furthermore, Coil Brothers plans to install odor-cancelling devices to fully eliminate this risk.

Brace stated that he expects Coil Brothers to buy most of its raw cannabis from small, indoor cultivators. He explained that smaller cultivators tend to have better product and that outdoor cultivation reduces the quality of extracts produced by the process. He expressed his opinion that Harvard’s bylaw on marijuana cultivation encouraged this sort of grower to locate in town.

Revenue and testing

When Finance Committee member Bruce Nickerson asked about the specifics of their business outlook, Coil representatives gave little concrete information, but stated that they expect $5 million to $8 million in revenue in the first year of operation if things go smoothly. According to Rory Fazendeiro, chief financial officer, Coil Brothers aims to position its product as a high-quality option, even if that requires a higher price point. Bob Erickson, a Harvard resident who is also active in the cannabis industry, and Justin Brown, member of the Planning Board, contested the revenue number, stating that manufacturing businesses in Oregon averaged around $600,000 yearly revenue. Brace countered by noting that, unlike Oregon, Massachusetts has more restrictions on the number of businesses opening, meaning the market is less likely to be flooded by supply.

The meeting was also attended by Matthew Gozzi, a representative of MS Scientific and Legal Group, an organization dedicated to providing up-to-date scientific and legal information about emerging drug issues. Gozzi asked about the specifics of the in-house testing that Coil would do, and Brace responded that, while the specifics had not yet been worked out, they would be using high-performance liquid chromatography.

The next step for Coil Brothers is to meet with the Planning Board for a site plan review. This is conditional on the police chief’s official approval of planned security measures, though Brace has stated that Chief Ed Denmark has approved of Coil Brothers’ plans so far. After this, the company will need to negotiate a host community agreement with the Select Board. (Based on agreements made in other Massachusetts towns, Coil Brothers would likely agree to pay Harvard approximately 3 percent of revenue.) One major hurdle to negotiating the host community agreement is that Harvard’s marijuana bylaw allows only one cannabis business in the commercial district, and another business, a retail dispensary called Trichome Health, is also seeking that license. Following an initial meeting Sept. 18 and Trichome’s own outreach meeting Sept. 26, the Select Board will decide which business, if either, will be awarded the license.

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