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Businesses Push On With Plans To Grow Medical Marijuana

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A proposed site to grow medical marijuana in Washington County is moving toward approval, while a business in neighboring Warren County is proposing its own location to grow the crop.

Under New York’s medical marijuana law, up to five businesses may be approved to cultivate the crop.

The New York State Department of Health ended a 45-day comment period on draft medical marijuana regulations 14 days ago, and is reviewing the information before it will issue an application.

Two separate businesses in Warren and Washington Counties are hoping to secure a state license to grow and distribute the drug. Supporters have hailed medical marijuana’s palliative effects, but it’s also seen as a way to bring in money and jobs through the new form of agriculture.

Ted Berdnt is working to transform a former mushroom-growing facility in the Washington County town of Jackson, on the border of Cambridge, into a one such facility.

“These will be good paying jobs in agriculture and ancillary fields such as human resources, accounting, security. We’ve also reached out to educational institutions in the area about partnering with them about horticulture, sustainable ag, and culinary,” said Berdnt. “We think we’re positioned pretty well.”

Berdnt has gotten the approval of several local communities and will present to the county Board of Supervisors on March 20th, the same day he’s scheduled to meet with the Washington County Local Development Corporation.

Deanna Derway, president of the Washington County Local Development Corporation, said she sees the potential for medical marijuana cultivation in the region.

“Especially from an economic development benefit…besides bringing in local jobs it would also increase our tax base here which would be great, especially out in the Jackson/Cambridge area. It would be very beneficial to them and the county as a whole.”

Meanwhile in neighboring Warren County, another company is seeking approval for its own medical marijuana growing facility.

Members of the Peckham family, of Peckham Industries, have begun a new effort called Etain. Etain appeared before the Chester Town Board on Monday evening with details on a facility on Route 9.

The town board unanimously approved a resolution in support of the plan. Town Supervisor Fred Monroe tells the Glens Falls Post Star, “It’s a product that would benefit patients in need. There would be a tax benefit; there could be an employment to the town. We know we have very little industry here.”

Berndt, in Washington County, said his business will work to put together a competitive proposal.

“We’re in no more competition with anybody else in a neighboring county than we are with somebody in Buffalo. If it’s merit-based, whoever scores higher should be awarded the license.”

Under state law approved last July the first crops of medical marijuana are to be grown and distributed in January 2016.

Update 3/5/2105:

On Tuesday, March 4th the Warren County Economic Development and Planning Committee voted in favor of Etain's project in Chester and recommended the country give its support.

The Warren County Board of Supervisors will consider the proposal at their March 20th meeting.

EDC Warren County has also voiced its support of the proposal in Chester.


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