Pennsylvania hemp facility shuttered amid wage delays, possible code violations

(This story has been updated with company reaction. It also has been corrected to say the facility was shuttered Wednesday, not Thursday.)

A Pennsylvania hemp facility has been shut down by local authorities after its owners allegedly ignored code requirements.

But warehouse owner Patriot Shield, a Colorado-based security and transportation company that serves both hemp and marijuana clients, said the company is being punished for missing wage payments to staffers.

The drying warehouse in Jeannette, about 30 miles east of Pittsburgh, accepts hemp biomass from farmers looking to outsource the process of turning raw hemp into dried, smokable hemp flower.

The warehouse was ordered closed Wednesday night by city officials who said the warehouse sparked odor complaints and its owners missed a Nov. 2 deadline to comply with code requirements such as better exit lighting.

But Andrew Englund, Patriot Shield’s Pennsylvania director, told Hemp Industry Daily that state officials are using code compliance as a way to retaliate against the company for its inability to pay its workers.

Patriot Shield is about 10 days behind payroll for roughly 200 employees at the Pennsylvania facility, he said.

“We’re really struggling as a company,” he said. “It’s something I feel terrible about.”

Patriot Shield started as a transportation and security company for both marijuana and hemp clients. Its Pennsylvania site was the company’s flagship attempt to add harvest-management services such as crop storage and drying.

“A lot of farmers haven’t paid us to do this work, and that’s why we’re in this situation,” Englund said.

Hemp biomass remains inside the Jeannette facility. Englund said he hopes to persuade local officials to allow Patriot Shield to reopen the warehouse so the hemp can be sold.

“They need to repeal this order so we can go in and pay our people,” he said.

The facility’s closure was first reported by The Tribune Review.