Medical Marijuana Facility Holds Open House
After years of debate, planning and fierce competition for coveted licenses, the medical marijuana era has arrived in New York. One of the companies, Etain, held an open house to show off its facility. WAMC’s North Country Bureau Chief Pat Bradley went along.
In July 2014, New York enacted the Compassionate Care Act to make medical marijuana available to registered patients in the state. At the end of July 2015, the state Department of Health awarded licenses to five businesses that will be allowed to grow and distribute medical marijuana.
Etain is repurposing an 8,000-square foot former horse barn in Chestertown in the southern Adirondacks for its medical marijuana processing facility. Adjacent to that building, a 13,000-square foot greenhouse is being constructed. Etain Chief Operating Officer Hillary Peckham led tours. “Where you just came through will be the only entrance and exit of the facility. As we move through here, this is the cloning room. We’re doing a hydroponic method of growing to make sure we can have a medical grade product.”
Later outside, Peckham explained how she and her family became involved in obtaining a medical marijuana license. “My grandmother was diagnosed with ALS and so we watched her get put on 18 medications. Five of those medications were because she was having reactions to the first 13. A doctor recommended we look into this but it was illegal in New York. And so we started looking at the industry and started talking to patients in medical states and hearing their story and they’d go from 18 medications to two. So when New York passed the bill all of our effort went into this.”
Etain is a women owned business with the principals a mother and two daughters. The company is named after the Gaelic goddess of transformation and healing who also symbolizes mothers and daughters. CEO Amy Peckham considers her company lucky to have received one of the first medical marijuana licenses from the state. “The application was rigorous. I do believe that when you look at the grading more than just the five are qualified. But they’ve mandated five. And that’s why I say on that side I’m lucky.”
Back inside the partially constructed cultivation facility, Chief Horticultural Officer Keeley Peckham is explaining why their first plants will be clones. “The reason to get a clone is to ensure the really trusted genetics. With seeds there’s some variation. It’s just a guaranteed product.”
Once plants are on site, only authorized personnel will be allowed on the property. Etain Chief of Security Michael Rego worked for a medical marijuana dispensary in Rhode Island. He calls New York’s protocols superb as he describes some of the strict security procedures. “We chiefly go more towards technology driven security. When we do drive the product from the cultivation site to the actual dispensaries they’ll have a GPS in each car, two way communication as well as cell phone communication. And also we’ll have a GPS monitoring device in the actual container that holds the product.”
Chestertown Supervisor Fred Monroe has been a strong supporter of placing the Etain facility in the Adirondack town. “I think it’s got a lot of benefits for the town and for the county and for the whole region really. This is jobs for younger people. It’s a business that can help people that need the help. It’s also going to help the sales tax revenue. So I think there’s a lot of benefits to it.”
Etain will not produce a smokable version of medical marijuana, which is not allowed under New York’s law. It will manufacture four devices: a vape pen, pills, a tincture and an oral spray.
Etain will open its first dispensary at 402 North Pearl Street in Albany on January 5th. Later in January, it will open dispensaries in Syracuse and Ulster and Westchester counties.