Main Groff investor says DEA-licensed marijuana operator still open

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(This story and headline have been updated with a denial that Groff NA Hemplex has closed.)

The main investor in a marijuana company licensed by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration says the company is “still operating” and recently renewed its agreement with the DEA.

The statement is contrary to a Tuesday report quoting a former Groff NA Hemplex employee who told MJBizDaily that the company had “lost funding and has dissolved.”

Robert Kinsley, CEO of Kinsley Enterprises, a Pennsylvania-based management company and the main investor in Groff NA Hemplex, told MJBizDaily via email on Wednesday that the DEA-licensed cannabis cultivation enterprise is “still operating and working with our research partners.”

“Groff North America remains operational and is in the final stages of closing a large round of institutional funding,” wrote Kinsley, who said he is now managing member of Groff NA.

He said Groff NA – one of eight entities licensed by the DEA to supply marijuana and THC to scientific researchers – renewed its “suite of six DEA cannabis registrations at the end of September and remains one of DEA’s active partners in supporting cannabis researchers.”

Kinsley previously had not returned MJBizDaily emails or calls seeking clarification about the company’s status.

Joe Grzyb, a former CEO of Groff NA, declined to comment earlier when asked about the company’s status.

The company’s status came into question after the June death of its founder and chief medical officer, Dr. Stephen Groff. He was 58.

Phone calls to Groff NA say the company is “temporarily unavailable,” and it’s not clear if Groff NA has any employees.

“Given the tragic death of Dr. Stephen Groff, we are also in process of adding new leadership to our team and we continue to remain focused on innovation in the sector,” Kinsley wrote in his email.

“Kinsley Ventures has continued to support Groff North America through this important transition.”

The question about Groff NA’s status came as the DEA unveiled plans Tuesday to increase by more than 60% the amount of delta-9 THC it would like produced versus an earlier production quota set for 2023.

As of Tuesday morning, Groff NA was still listed among the eight entities with DEA licenses to cultivate cannabis.

Also on Tuesday, the agency published a notice in the Federal Register detailing a proposed increase in delta-9 THC production to 628,460 grams from the initial 2023 quota of 384,460.

The planned increase is subject to a 30-day comment period.

It comes as the agency is weighing a recommendation by Biden administration health officials to reclassify marijuana as a Schedule 3 substance versus its current Schedule 1 classification.

The University of Mississippi – known as the National Center for Development of Natural Products – received the first DEA cultivation registration in 1968.

It took 53 years for the DEA to award another federal license – in fact four licenses – permitting licensees to grow marijuana that could be sold to researchers with DEA permits to study marijuana.

Those licenses, awarded in 2021, went to:

• Groff North America, based in Red Lion, Pennsylvania.
• Scottsdale Research Institute, Cave Creek, Arizona.
• Biopharmaceutical Research Co., Castroville, California.
• Royal Emerald Pharmaceuticals, Desert Hot Springs, California.

Since then, the DEA has granted bulk marijuana cultivation licenses to:

• Irvine Labs, Huntington Beach, California
• Maridose, Brunswick, Maine.
• Bright Green Corp., New Mexico.

Omar Sacirbey can be reached at