It’s been a long and challenging journey from cannabis caregiver to medical marijuana provisioning center owner. Still, Casey Kornoelje has remained focused and his shop, PharmHouse Wellness, is open for business. It’s Grand Rapids’ second store and the only one that’s 100 percent locally owned. Cannalex Law assisted Casey with his state medical marijuana application.
In 2008 Casey was a Michigan medical marijuana caregiver. Those close relationships with patients who were helped by the plants that he grew strengthened his passion for cannabis and fueled his desire to help more people and create a viable business. “I totally believe in the healing power of cannabis,” Casey said. “I have a real connection to the plant and the products we’re providing to patients.”
His business is strengthened by the people who grow and process cannabis. Those years of caregiving gave Casey strong relationships with Michigan’s cannabis community. “I try to focus what we sell on what I consume myself,” he said. He carries a wide range of cannabis flower, concentrates, and edibles and categorizes the products with a top shelf, mid-level and lower-priced structure. This structure helps customers look at products with an eye to their needs and their budget.
“When Grand Rapids opened up for medical marijuana in 2018, I was convinced I needed a partner or partners to get a business up and running,” said Casey. That didn’t happen as planned, and now he’s the sole proprietor of the shop, which is located in a renovated old home at the very end west of Wealthy Street in Grand Rapids.
When other prospective business owners were scrambling for commercial property, Casey went door to door to homes in the cannabis zone looking for someone ready to sell. He found a one, made an offer, and the wheels for PharmHouse Wellness were rolling.
When it comes to cannabis, it’s more skill and fortitude than luck. Still, in one regard, Casey did get lucky with his application chosen as #30 in Grand Rapids’ license lottery–which meant he’d have the 30th application and plan reviewed (and approved) by the Planning Commission.
The older two-story house Casey chose for his store would need significant renovation to be compliant with zoning, security and accessibility requirements for a medical marijuana business. “Honestly, construction was the hardest part of this process,” Casey said. Luckily, he found expertise and help with Lynee Wells from Aligned Planning, Rick Pulaski from Nederveld and Ted Lott from Lott3Metz Architecture. “Without them, I never would have made it.” Most of 2019 was consumed with getting the property retail-ready with permits and inspections on the local and state level.
Fast forward to March 2020. The store opens to medical marijuana patients. For four days, customers came in and shopped. Then, Governor Gretchen Whitmer enacted precautionary measures regarding the COVID-19 virus and many non-essential businesses were closed. Medical marijuana businesses are excluded from the closures. PharmHouse Wellness adapted to the situation to call in or online orders and curbside pick-up only. “I’m thankful that we’re small and can keep things lean,” Casey said. He’s in the shop 12 hours a day and has five employees on staff to help him out.
PharmHouse Wellness location: 831 Wealthy Street SW, Grand Rapids
PharmHouse Wellness hours: 9-9 PM seven days a week
PharmHouse Wellness phone: 616-551-0040
PharmHouse Wellness on social media: https://www.facebook.com/pharmhousewellness/