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Funding delay and Covid-19 slow progress for valley cannabis pharmaceutical firm

royal emerald

A team in body suits sprayed a disinfectant on the walls Wednesday at Royal Emerald Pharmaceuticals in Desert Hot Springs.

"I think we need to make sure we are wearing our masks and keeping a distance of 6 feet. What we are providing is keeping the surfaces clean," said Mark Gould, President and Founder of First Defense Atomizing, the company providing the cleaning solution.

Royal Emerald Pharmaceuticals took the precaution after closing the building for two weeks, once in January and again in February.

Each time, a single employee tested positive for Covid-19.

"From an economic standpoint it's tough. You are paying everyone to go home. You still have your overhead and you are getting nothing done," said Royal Emerald's CEO Mark Crozier.

The Covid-related closures are in addition to the company not receiving a $74 million federal cannabis research grant, which they previously thought they would receive.

Crozier, who so far has hired 20 employees, blames "politics" at the federal level.

"We are just trying to get up and stay operational so we can get finished. So we can start the process to hire employees," said Crozier.

The CEO says he's certain the federal funding they were counting on will eventually come through under the new administration.

Crozier said officials from the Drug Enforcement Administration will perform a final inspection on the building Thursday.

Assuming they pass, the CEO says they'll receive their federal cannabis license sometime in March.

The license would allow the company to grow marijuana, perform research, and manufacture pharmaceuticals made from cannabis to treat first responders and veterans for pain and PTSD.

Crozier says the company's plans for growth and hiring are still in place, but are now delayed by 90 days.

"Politics and the pandemic are killing me. But we're okay. We are going to be fine. We are rolling out of it. Everything is good," said Crozier.

The CEO says the company expects to hire 100 additional employees by July or August.

He said they also expect to have a total of 260 employees hired by the end of the year.

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Tom Tucker

Tom Tucker is a veteran broadcast journalist with nearly 20 years of experience. Learn more about Tom here.

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