After once imprisoning drug offenders, part of the former Mid-Orange Correctional Facility site will soon be transformed into a medical marijuana processing plant.
The Warwick Valley Local Development Corporation announced Tuesday that medicinal cannabis maker Citiva Medical LLC recently closed on a $526,000 purchase of eight and half acres of the former state prison property.
The WVLDC, a nonprofit public benefit corporation full of community and business leaders, has been helping to redevelop the site since acquiring it from New York in March 2014.
Citiva will soon break ground on a 40,000-square-foot location inside the Warwick Valley Office and Technology Corporate Park on the former prison grounds. Citiva plans to sow seeds by the fourth quarter of this year, said company spokeswoman Amy Holdener.
The facility will initially employ 15 to 20 full-time workers and produce 4,500 pounds of “marijuana flower” annually, before hiring more employees and eventually doubling production, Holdener said.
Citiva, a Manhattan subsidiary of the Canadian private equity firm iAnthus Capital Holdings, Inc., holds one of 10 New York medical marijuana manufacturing licenses.
The state permits each licensee to open a manufacturing site and four dispensaries across New York. Medicine from Citiva’s Warwick crop will go to dispensaries in Brooklyn, Staten Island, Dutchess and Chemung counties.
New York requires medical cannabis to be processed, so patients can’t buy whole “marijuana flower,” or buds and other plant parts. Since the medicine’s 2014 legalization, New York has grown to have 56,204 certified patients and 1,644 registered doctors, according to the state Department of Health.
“How do we feel about opening in a prison? Well, the irony is not lost on us,” Holdener said. “The legal climate of the cannabis business is not for the faint of heart, so having a sense of humor helps.”
Town of Warwick Supervisor Michael Sweeton and WVLDC President Bob Krahulik said Citiva’s presence is a big win for Warwick.
“We certainly are in need of raising our commercial tax base in town, and this is a great way to do so,” Krahulik said. “We hope this sale will spike interest in the remaining lots on the site.”
Counting parcels for which companies have sent letters of interest to the WVLDC, just three of the corporate park’s 10 lots are free, Krahulik said.
“We have an agriculture-based economy, so Citiva isn’t an incongruous fit,” Sweeton said. “The field of treating diseases with medical marijuana is evolving, and the Town of Warwick is really excited to be a part of it.”