JOHNSTOWN, Ohio - Between the forklift, computer programing and welding, you'd never know Apeks Supercritical's Johnstown facility has been making equipment used in the marijuana industry in other states for years. But now, the facility will be able to process medical marijuana for the state.
Testing their own product has been complicated because they couldn't legally use marijuana in Ohio, so they used beer hops.
Joel Hatfield works oil from hops that were in a deep freeze, separating fats out of the oil.
"Hops gives us a good idea of what we're going to expect in the real world," said Ohio Grown Therapies Extraction Tech Joel Hatfield.
"We've never had to opportunity to utilize the same material our customers are using, cannabis," said Ohio Grown Therapies C.E.O. Andy Joseph.
Ohio Grown Therapies C.E.O. Andy Joseph operates an excavator to break ground on the facility's expansion, which will house his medical marijuana processing business.
It's part of the reason Joseph started Ohio Grown Therapies and applied to become a medical marijuana cultivator, processor, and dispensary. It's processor and dispensary licenses were preliminarily approved. The company is appealing to the Department of Commerce to overturn their denied license application.
The machines Apeks Supercritical creates, which uses carbon dioxide to extract oils from marijuana.
The machines Apeks Supercritical creates uses carbon dioxide to draw the oils out of the raw marijuana plants grown in cultivation facilities all over the state. From there, the oil is processed into the active ingredients in products like edibles, gel capsules, and treatments administered under a patient's tongue.
The "Research and Development" section of Apeks Supercritical's facility, where beer hops stand-in for marijuana so workers can test and study equipment.
"This is good clean oil with a nice viscosity which would be really good for going straight into a vape pen," said Hatfield, swirling a cup of oil extracted from hops.
After medical cannabis products leave a processing facility like Ohio Grown Therapies, it'll be tested in state labs to make sure it has the proper strength. Then, it will be sent to dispensary shelves where Ohio's patients will eventually be able to buy it.
Ohio Grown Therapies expects to start shipping out processed product in mid-April.