Washington County should be allowed to have a Medical Marijuana growing facility

New York State now has a Medical Marijuana law called the Compassionate Care Act.

In my opinion, it is about time that this plant based medicine became legal to alleviate needless suffering. There are many maladies that respond much better to marijuana with far fewer side effects than the more dangerous synthetic chemicals produced by the Pharmaceutical complex.

New York State will soon issue five licenses to “Registered Organizations” to grow and produce medical marijuana. These five producers will then be allowed to operate four dispensaries each for a grand total of twenty dispensaries throughout the State.

Medical Marijuana in New York must be grown within the state and will only be prescribed by specific Doctors who are trained and certified by the Dept. of Health to prescribe it for certain serious conditions. It will only be available in ingestible forms like extracts, tinctures, oils, edibles, etc. and will only be available from a designated Medical Marijuana dispensary.

The State has not yet defined how the five licenses or location of dispensaries will be awarded. While it makes sense to locate the dispensaries with regard to population densities, the criteria for the growing facilities should not be dependent upon population. It can easily be grown and processed in rural areas and then trucked to the urban dispensaries.

Both Washington County and Warren County are vying to be the area’s host County for a growing facility. Washington County has a proposed location at an old mushroom growing farm in the Town of Jackson run by a company called The Compassionate Relief Centers of NY, Inc. and Warren County has an old horse barn owned by the Peckham family in the Town of Chester.

Washington and Warren are adjacent Counties with almost equal populations of around 63,000 each. However, these two Counties have very different economic development models with Washington being much poorer than Warren. Warren Co has the Adirondack Northway Interstate, shopping malls, restaurants, motels, etc. plus the tourist side of Lake George while Washington County has the farms.

In 2014, Washington County ranked 57th out of the 57 Counties (excluding NYC) in the collection of Sales Tax per Capita while Warren ranked 5th . Washington collected a total of $19.7 million while Warren collected a total of $49.4 million. However, when it comes to Taxable Sales per Capita, Warren ranks #1 in the entire State.

The State will impose a 7% Excise Tax on the product. This Excise tax will then be parceled out so that 22.5% of it will go to the County where it is grown, another 22.5% will be divided up among the Counties where it is dispensed, 5% to the Office of Alcohol and Substance Abuse Services, and 5% to the Dept. of Criminal Justice. The remaining 45% of the excise tax stays with the State as revenue.

Nothing says that either of these businesses will be awarded with a growing license, and it is doubtful that both Counties would be allowed to grow it since there will only be 5 facilities throughout the State.

In my opinion when comparing the economic needs of the two Counties, Washington County is the more compelling candidate to host a growing facility and the 30+ full time jobs it would generate.