Friday, July 31, 2015

Marijuana Growing Operation Approved For Adirondacks

Cannabis_PlantLegal Adirondack weed is one step closer to reality today after New York State announced that a new Town of Chester company is one of five to receive licenses to grow and distribute medical marijuana.

Etain LLC, and offshoot of Peckham Industries involving Amy Peckham and her daughters Kelley and Hillary Peckham, is expected to build a growing facility on Route 9 South of Chestertown across from the Peckham mine. The company was one of 48 that applied for the licenses.

The Chester Town Board has been supportive of the planned facility.  Hillary Peckham told the Board in March that her grandmother has ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease), one of the medical conditions treatable with marijuana under state law. Town Supervisor Fred Monroe, who also serves as the Executive Director of the Local Government Review Board and has a non-voting seat on the Adirondack Park Agency Board, told a reporter at the time: “I think it could be good for the area. It’s a good number of jobs and medical marijuana makes sense.” The facility is expected to support 25 to 30 jobs according to Hillary Peckham.

Other companies awarded licenses include Bloomfield Industries Inc., Columbia Care NY LLC, Empire Health Solutions,  and PharmaCann LLC. Each company can open four dispensaries to sell up to 30-day supplies of marijuana pills, oils, or tinctures. Syracuse.com is reporting that one of Etain’s dispensaries will be in Onondaga County. Columbia Care NY is expected to open a dispensary in Clinton County.

New York State is one of the most restrictive of the 23 states and the District of Columbia with medical marijuana programs. Four states and the District of Columbia now allow for the recreational use of marijuana as well.

State residents, or patients being treated in New York State, will be allowed to obtain a doctor’s certification to treat only the following medical conditions: ALS, cancer, epilepsy, HIV/AIDS, Huntington’s disease, inflammatory bowel disease, multiple sclerosis, neuropathies, Parkinson’s disease, and spinal cord tissue damage. The NYS Department of Health is authorized to add other medical conditions the the current list. Medical marijuana users will also have to apply for a registry ID, which costs $50 (a financial hardship waiver is available).

marijuana+in+minervaThe announcement Friday follows a week of developments regarding the legalization of marijuana that could dramatically affect the Adirondack region.

On Monday, Vermont advocates met with State Senator Jeanette White to discuss legislation to legalize marijuana for recreational use. White promised to put a bill forward in 2016. A recent poll found 54% of Vermonter supported legalization, 40% opposed and 6% had no opinion. In April two Vermont legislators proposed a bill outlawing alcohol to highlight the double standard being applied to the two drugs.

On Tuesday, the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Acting Administrator Chuck Rosenberg told the press his agents were not prioritizing enforcement of marijuana laws. “Do I think it’s as dangerous as heroin?” Rosenberg said. “Probably not.”

Last week, the United State Senate Appropriations Committee voted 16-14 for an amendment that would allow marijuana businesses access to federal banking services.

Also last week, the Arizona Court of Appeals ruled that because of the legality of smoking medical marijuana in that state the smell of pot alone could no longer be used as probable cause that a crime was taking place.

A recent Gallup poll estimated that about 40% of Americans have smoked marijuana. A 2014 Quinnipiac Poll found that 88% of New Yorkers support doctor prescribed medical marijuana.

The Adirondacks has long been home to considerable pot growing operations, large aerial surveillance law enforcement operations, and prison cells for those convicted of marijuana crimes.

Photos: Above, marijuana (courtesy the Cannabis Training University) and below, an aerial photo taken by State Police of some of the 1,900 plants police discovered growing in a boggy area north of Irishtown, in the Essex County town of Minerva, in 2008.


John Warren

John Warren has been exploring the woods and waters of the Adirondacks for more than 45 years. After a career as a print journalist and documentary television producer he founded Adirondack Almanack in 2005 and co-founded Adirondack Atlas in 2015.

John's Adirondack Outdoors Conditions Report can be heard Friday mornings across the region on North Country Public Radio and on WSLP Lake Placid.

He is also on the staff of the New York State Writers Institute and edits The New York History Blog. He is the author of two books of regional history.




14 Responses

  1. Paul says:

    I have found this issue to be very interesting. For most pharmaceuticals it takes decades of R&D and tons of money and time spent on clinical trials and regulatory compliance to get a drug approved. Here no approval is required, nothing really.

    • Boreal says:

      I think it may be a matter of jurisdiction. I don’t think the FDA is as involved because in the past, I believe it was under the ‘control’ of BATF. Also, possibly because it is a naturally growing plant, like OTC vitamins, etc.. But if medical claims and and insurance plans come into play, you can bet it will undergo the same scrutiny as any other drug, and the price will skyrocket.

      • Paul says:

        Many other pharmaceuticals come from plants.

        • AG says:

          “come from”… but they are chemical processes to them. marijuana shouldn’t even be a “controlled substance”. it’s been used for thousands of years just like alcohol. the “hemp” species has good industrial use as well.

          • Paul says:

            Many compounds from plants that are used as pharmaceuticals and and other regulated products (herbicides and pesticides) are basically the unadulterated compound from the plant.

            Also, in this case if the THC is not purified there are thousands of other compounds making up the “product” as well.

            If this is safe and effective why not just make it follow the same rules? Or let the other products have the same slack.

            • AG says:

              You seriously believe the pharmaceutical companies? You really believe the FDA? Yeah – we’ll see what happens with genetically modified crops too.
              Just because the government says something doesn’t make it so. Lobbying often dictates what we are told.
              my point is people should be allowed to grow it for personal use… not for sale – but personal use. as to these companies and the “purity”. we again – this is a plant that has been used for thousands of years. it’s true you can say the same about the poppy seed – but those can be very addictive.

              • Paul says:

                AG, I see you don’t trust the companies, fair enough. But I see you also don’t trust the government, and (for GMOs) you don’t trust thousands of scientists and the National Academy of Science either.

                Here you will get a new comprehensive study on GMOs that will come out next year, and you can not believe that one too.

                http://nas-sites.org/ge-crops/

                I assume that you don’t trust their facts on climate change as well?

  2. Charlie S says:

    “In April two Vermont legislators proposed a bill outlawing alcohol to highlight the double standard being applied to the two drugs.”

    Imagine this scenario: There are two parties right next door to each other. In one house they’re smoking marijuana. In the other they’re drinking alcohol. Where do you think a fight will break out first?

    • Paul says:

      That doesn’t mean that either one is a safe and effective medication.

    • AG says:

      Exactly – and marijuana doesn’t impair the motor skills as much as alcohol. it’s also less dangerous to your long term health than cigarettes. Any adult can buy alcohol and cigarettes. It’s pretty strange.
      That said – I don’t encourage putting any kind of smoke in the lungs – not even campfire smoke – but there are other ways to use marijuana.. For instance in many cultures – rather than running to the doctor – old people who have pains or are sick boil it and drink it. In the Caribbean for instance you can find many people in their 80’s and 90’s who live in rural environments that use it just like that. Even for relief from bad colds or fevers.

      • Paul says:

        In this case we are not talking about the use of the product for fun. We are saying that it has some type of beneficial medical use.

        I personally don’t have any huge issue with the legalization of pot for recreational use. Medical use is something entirely different.

  3. Charlie S says:

    Paul says: “That doesn’t mean that either one is a safe and effective medication.”

    AG says: “marijuana doesn’t impair the motor skills as much as alcohol. it’s also less dangerous to your long term health than cigarettes.”

    It is so taboo to smoke weed yet look at all of the drugs that are legal (aka pharmaceuticals) and all of the damage done from them! We’re talking most probably tens of thousands of injuries and deaths per year. And it’s legal! That’s because campaign financing is legal. We’ve had this discussion already haven’t we?

    I like the off-road signs in certain townships in this country that say “This is a drug-free community.” Yeah right! I bet three-quarters of their populations are on one pharmaceutical or another. Hypocrisy is rampant throughout this society is all those signs mean.

    • Paul says:

      There is no doubt that there is too many drugs out there. But it is just as true that some of them have saved millions and millions of lives. It is funny some folks seem to wax sentimental for the good old days when children had a very good chance to die before they made it to their teens. Or many simple (now curable) illnesses were a death sentence. Medicines and vaccines are a modern miracle. Are there some ineffective ones out there for sure.

      Just look at a family tree from the turn of the 19th century versus today. It must have been sad to see so many people (especially your own children) dying around you. I think my grandfather had 5 of his siblings listed as dead as infants.

      If THC is an effective and safe medication that by all means lets make sure people who need it get it. But you can’t deny that this is being treated very differently than anything else. I just find it weird.

      • Bruce says:

        Paul,

        I agree. Unless I’m mistaken, I believe NY is looking at marijuana as a medical drug to be prescribed by a physician and dispensed by licensed pharmacists.

        I see no problem with that, Those looking for blanket approval for all uses are pushing the medical aspect as a reason for general legalization. The two issues are entirely separate and not related.