Casey Kornoelje

In his high school years, Casey grew marijuana in his bedroom closet at home in Alaska where he was living while his parents operated a fishing boat business. “I’ve always been interested in cannabis,” he said. He continued to grow plants throughout high school and college—activities that resulted in a felony for marijuana possession (2002) and a misdemeanor charge (2004).

In 2008 when Michigan established its medical marijuana program Casey became a caregiver and grew for patients in the Grand Rapids area. He graduated from Grand Valley State University that same year. Casey took a position with a West Michigan bank and worked in commercial banking while growing cannabis for six patients. “My heart is really in medical marijuana,” he said. As a caregiver, he developed close relationships with his patients and felt as if he was truly able to help people with a variety of medical issues. Like many caregivers, he had an aha moment that came from his skill in growing—an excess of product. He set his sights on creating a cannabis growing operation in Grand Rapids. With property in the marijuana zones being scarce and expensive, growing wasn’t his best option, so he explored opening a retail cannabis business.

As Casey explored the City’s maps, he found a small section of property on the far end of Wealthy Street that was zoned for marijuana. He went door to door talking homeowners asking if they were interested in selling their properties. An owner took his offer and Pharmhouse Wellness took root. He went through several rigorous processes—licensing by the State of Michigan was the first. Due to past marijuana convictions, he was almost denied a license, but in the end, the State marijuana board voted to award him a license. He also was lucky enough to draw an early Planning Commission hearing in the City of Grand Rapids’ lottery. His property was far from any churches or parks and moved easily to approval. From there it was rehabbing and prepping the old house to be a modern retail space and opening to the public.

Pharmhouse Wellness opened in March 2020 for medical cannabis sales and opened in December 2020 for recreational cannabis sales. Despite restrictions due to coronavirus, this essential business has been serving patients with curbside and delivery.

Casey, his wife and daughter live in the City of Grand Rapids.

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