It is my pleasure to announce that the Plexis building, at 340 Oak St. in the former Oak Street Tank and Steel building, is being transformed into a Healing and Thriving Arts Center. This letter will help to clarify the true essence and intention of this gift to the community, which will be in harmony with Ashland’s values and spirit.

For those who don’t know me, I’ve been a wholehearted participant in the Ashland community for more than 25 years. I worked at Southern Oregon University, I was proud to serve on the Oregon Health Policy Commission, and I have volunteered extensively throughout the community. In 1996, I built a successful business out of my home in Ashland that created jobs for hundreds of people and continues to be one of the largest tech employers in Southern Oregon.

One of my current passions is leading multi-day silent meditation retreats — free of charge — at meditation centers I founded in Ashland and on Maui. This nonprofit organization is dedicated to expanding awareness and equanimity through silent meditation and other somatic practices.

When I originally bought the former Oak Street Tank and Steel building I had a vision to expand PLEXIS Healthcare Systems and create new jobs within the community. I succeeded in these goals to such an extent that we outgrew two buildings in the historic railroad district and relocated to a much larger facility in Medford last year. At that point, I began speaking with friends in the community about a new, shared vision to create a thriving marketplace in this beautiful building.

The Dec. 15 editorial in the Daily Tidings, “It’s a business, after all,” noted that some opponents to this project are simply against the idea of marijuana businesses in general. We listened to the community and heard concerns about the marijuana cultivation space, so we are withdrawing our application for the grow space to study the issue further.

There are already several marijuana dispensaries operating legally and safely in Ashland. The Plexis Healing and Thriving Arts Center’s dispensary will offer a unique experience for the community. The dispensary will be a full-service herbal apothecary staffed with qualified herbal practitioners,  offering many types of service and varieties of herbs and herbal medicines that go well beyond the healing powers of the marijuana plant.

In addition to the herbal apothecary, our boutiques will feature a full line of hemp accessories, apparel, bath, bedding, body care, kitchen, food, home furnishings and building supplies. The nourishment court will have choices of organic elixirs, teas, juice and coffees as well as living foods.

Future plans also include a venue for music and performing arts as well as a venue for guest speakers and an educational forum on all aspects of hemp. The center will be a gathering place for the entire community, a space for meditation and reflection, a source of inspiration and well-being offering access to multiple healing modalities. The center will create new jobs for the community and help stimulate the local economy.

In alignment with my history of philanthropy, I pledge to donate a percentage of our product to people in need, including veterans, senior citizens and those in need who have limited means. CBD and other cannabinoids are known to relieve the suffering for over 17 different medical conditions, including cancer and Crohn's disease.

To close, I would like to point out the prevailing examples from Colorado, Washington and here in Oregon, where high-end marijuana retail stores have been a positive boon for the local economy. Colorado’s marijuana industry generated $2.4 billion in economic activity in 2015, and its tourist industry continues to break new records partially because of “green” tourism.

Southern Oregon takes pride in its wealth of locally grown marijuana. The healing and thriving arts center will create new jobs, and it will serve Ashland’s thriving tourist industry as well as its heritage of progressive thinking, health and wellness.

— Jorge Yant is CEO of Plexis Healthcare Systems.