In March 2019, Taylor Groff, left, and his father Steve Groff stand inside the building in Red Lion where they expect to begin processing industrial hemp in the fall.

Steve Groff, a York-based entrepreneur who is one of the biggest players in Pennsylvania’s young hemp industry, is planning a Lancaster County retail store that will focus on cannabinoid therapy.

Groff declined to disclose the location of his new operation, but said he will probably do so soon and hopes to have it open by the end of March. He said it will be similar to a retail store and health clinic he opened in York last March through a physician-owned venture called Farmacy Partners.

Like the Farmacy in York, the Lancaster location is “going to be a retail experience that is centered on cannabinoid therapy and also have a medical component in that we will offer advice to patients and the customers about using cannabinoids,” he said.

Groff, who is also a licensed surgeon, added that while the store will sell only products from hemp, not marijuana, it will also be an office where people can seek certification to participate in Pennsylvania's medical marijuana program.

The retail offerings will include a mix of hemp food, pet and cosmetic products, he said, as well as more health-focused ones.

One of 2 Steve Groffs

The York-based entrepreneur is one of two Steve Groffs who live in the area and are prominent in the developing hemp industry.

The other one is a farmer from Holtwood in southern Lancaster County and was well-known as a cover crop educator before he started working with hemp.

The York Steve Groff is a Strasburg native who was instrumental in developing OSS Health in York and then the Wyndridge Farm in Dallastown.

More recently, he and his wife and son launched Groff North America to process whole hemp plants for fiber, seeds and chemicals.

Groff North America contracted 2,000 of the roughly 4,000 acres of hemp grown in Pennsylvania last year. Those contracts were for varieties grown for fiber and seed, not the CBD varieties that many Lancaster-area farmers tried.

What’s ahead

Groff said the fiber quality from hemp farmers grew last year is great, but the company announced a few weeks ago that it’s not planning to contract fiber hemp this year.

They are beginning processing later than expected, he said, and as the market is developing, the company didn’t want to contract too much or at too high a price.

However, he said, some exciting fiber uses are being looked at, from construction to health care, and depending on how things go, it’s possible the company could revisit that decision.

He noted that the company has hired Dan Batzel, “an experienced organic chemist with experience in cannabis and advanced textiles,” to head up its cannabinoid extraction and research and development team.

And on the retail side, Groff said he sees a broader opportunity for what he called “almost a paradigm-changing health care model” that includes cannabinoids and the “keto” high-fat, low carbohydrate diet.

“We’re hosting a big event at Wyndridge Farm in February on keto and how it relates to health and cannabis,” he said. “It sold out in about 36 hours.”

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The beginning of this Lancaster Farming Industrial Hemp Podcast, posted Jan. 29, 2020, features this Steve Groff.

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