The Gibraltar site will can various nonalcoholic beverages: those infused with cannabis and CBD, and others that are just plain substance-free. It’s not legal to combine alcohol with cannabis in a drink.
The partners expect to build out the canning operation in four to five months, depending how construction goes, and then the goal is to produce 2 million cases — 24 cans per case — a year to start.
After that, the first product to roll out will be a fruit-flavored seltzer drink with 2 mg of THC. It’s on the lower side — popular THC beverage Cann offers 2 mg and 4 mg versions, whereas a typical gummy serving may have around 5 mg. Blake said he wants to make the drinks accessible for non-regular pot users. The brand is “Highly Casual.”
“We hope it has the experience of drinking like a beer,” Blake said. “Our hope is to make drinks very approachable and not scare people that you’re going to go for a wild ride … There’s a huge opportunity for people who are cannabis-curious to look at beverages as a way to take the product (with less stigma than smoking or edibles).”
There are two more brands lined up, tea- and fruit punch-based, but Blake said he wouldn’t speak much more to them yet.
Blake’s and Pleasantrees could do more on the site, as well. They have an option to expand to a total of 110,000 square feet with the site’s owner, developer James George. A business entity connected to George, Hidden Ridge Investments LLC, bought the Gibraltar site out of foreclosure in July 2017 for $4 million.
Pleasantrees first discussed the idea of a cannabis grow site on Gibraltar with George in 2018, but it didn’t make sense because the marijuana company was already working on a site where it would to just that in nearby Harrison Township, according to Randy Buchman, CEO and founder of Pleasantrees. That’s were its current 80,000-square-foot grow campus resides.
A deal with another operator was created and then fell apart, and Buchman became involved again.
The first iteration of Pleasantrees retail there is medical-only because Mount Clemens is among cities that opted not to allow recreational cannabis businesses, though adult use became legal statewide in 2018 and sales started in 2019.
But Pleasantrees isn’t betting millions on just medical, Buchman said. It’s expected Mount Clemens will change its mind and institute rules to allow recreational cannabis after all.
Buchman added that they plan to keep the iconic Gibraltar sign that’s visible from the highway — though it’ll likely be painted.
This is Pleasantrees’ fifth retail site in Michigan. Its Hamtramck location is recreational, East Lansing and Lincoln Park are both recreational and medical, and Houghton Lake is medical only. The company also has a shop in Easthampton, Mass., and is planning a 110,000-square-foot grow operation in Massachusetts as well.
Pleasantrees may also build out a cannabis consumption lounge — a business where customers can legally consume their pot and hang out — at Gibraltar, but that’s further out.
“It’s very dependent on the city with the recreational ordinance,” Buchman said.
The rest of the Gibraltar site’s building, 142,000 square feet of it, is expected to house a facility for Montreal-based specialty hardware company Richelieu Hardware Ltd., according to Mount Clemens government documents.