MILBURN—A farming operation that has been in the same family for five generations has applied to the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food (UDAF) to grow medical marijuana on 3 acres near the center of Milburn.
The owners of Milburn Oaks Land, who asked that their names not be used, told the Sanpete County Commission at a meeting March 3 that the site would have tight security, including a double fence, security cameras and motion sensors, which, if triggered, would activate bright lights. They said a security guard would be on duty 24 hours per day.
While UDAF has the final say on medical marijuana operations, growers are required to first get approval from their local county commission.
At the March 3 meeting, Commissioner Reed Hatch moved to approve the Milburn Oaks plan “since the code allows it.” Commission Ed Sunderland asked that the approval be contingent on the sheriff’s office reviewing the security arrangements. With that, the motion passed.
Representatives of Milburn Oaks said they would operate in partnership and under the license held by Dragonfly Wellness of Salt Lake City, one of a handful of medical cannabis providers in Utah. Dragonfly has been growing medical marijuana outside Moroni, without incident, for a couple of years.
“We expect to supply about six good employment jobs the first season and probably more in the future,” the head of Milburn Oaks told the commission.
The farm site would take up 3 acres of a 22-acre field, representatives told the county commission. They said two years ago, they grew 2 acres of hemp there and last year expanded hemp cultivation to 18 acres.
Medical marijuana is made from plants where more than 0.3 percent of the plant is tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the chemical that produces a “high.”
Hemp is scientifically similar to marijuana but has a much lower level of THC. Successful cultivation of hemp would suggest marijuana would grow well on the same site.
Hemp is used in industrial products such as rope, textiles, clothing, shoes, food, paper, bioplastics, insulation and biofuel.
Milburn Oaks representatives said their marijuana cultivation facility would include 12 greenhouses; an existing barn, which would be enclosed for use as a drying facility; and a second building, which would house security-camera monitors and also serve as a break room for staff.
Unlike the Moroni operation, where all cultivation is inside greenhouses, the Milburn farm would use both greenhouses and open-air cultivation, company representatives said.
They said plants would sometimes be started in green houses and transplanted to the ground, while in other cases, plants would be started in the ground and finished in the greenhouses.
Company representatives said there would be a 9-foot “game fence” around the whole 22-acre field and a 5-foot fence around the 3-acre grow site.
UDAF requires that medical marijuana growing sites not be visible from the outside. A Milburn Farms representative said the outer fence would be made from a “mesh fiber material,” adding, “you can’t see into it at all.” There would be one gate through the fence, which would be locked at all times.
The interior fence would be made of pipe and wire, the representative said. The wire would be “double braided to where you can’t climb it,” he said. “An ATV can drive around the entire perimeter [between the two fences] and do security checks.”
Commissioner Sunderland asked the representatives if they had encountered any opposition from neighbors in Milburn. They said “no”—they own not just the 22 acres but all the land around the field. And the nearest house is a quarter-mile away.
Commissioner Hatch asked if transporting the finished plants to the Dragonfly Wellness processing plant in South Salt Lake would create security concerns.
Vu Nguyen, who is associated with Dragonfly Wellness and who was also at the commission meeting, said plants are transported in a secure van.
To comply with UDAF regulations, Nguyen said, growers have to draw up a manifest, a list of goods being shipped and their weight, to make sure all of the marijuana remains under Dragonfly control.
“Everything’s weighed, everything’s measured, it’s done in metrics, so everything really has to comply,” he said “It’s all in compliance with the state.”