The location of a former state prison in New York’s Hudson Valley is being morphed into a $150 million “cannabis campus” by Green Thumb Industries, one of the U.S.’s largest producers of legal cannabis. The planned institution at the former penitentiary in Warwick, New York will farm tens of thousands of pounds of marijuana for the state’s looming recreational marijuana economy, which legislators legalized earlier this year. Until a decade ago, the 38-acre plot acquired by Green Thumb Industries was a piece of the Mid-Orange Correctional Facility, housing inmates sent to prison due to cannabis offenses and other crimes. The facility dates back to 1914 when it was opened as a drug and alcohol treatment center called the New York City Farm.
Around the 1930s, the institution was turned into the New York State Training School for Boys to house wayward youth from the city. In the 1970s, the site was changed to a prison for adult inmates before being shut down by then-governor Andrew Cuomo in 2011. At a groundbreaking ceremony for the new marijuana growth facility held earlier this month, Green Thumb Industries president Ben Kovler expressed the significance of the new use for the site. Kovler said, “The irony of building a cannabis facility near the grounds of what used to be a federal prison is not lost on us.”
He continued, “Change is really in the air; change is happening in the country; change is happening here.” Kovler concluded, “And we’re able to go from a place where people used to be locked up for marijuana [to one] where we’re going to employ people and enable opportunity, create wealth and create a positive economic environment.” Green Thumb Industries invested $2.8 million for its 38-acre plot of land in a deal that included millions of dollars in tax incitements for the organization. Green Thumb plans to develop the property in three stages, creating 100 union jobs in the construction process.
The first stage of construction includes a $60 million growth facility spanning 200,000 square feet. Marijuana product manufacturing operations are also planned for the site, resulting in a facility worth an estimated $150 million. When completed, Green Thumb’s cannabis campus will employ around 150 people, earning salaries ranging from $50,000 to $100,000. At the September 9 groundbreaking ceremony, Senator Michael Martucci said, “Our fertile soil, educated workforce, and close proximity to New York City sets us up to be the Silicon Valley for the cannabis industry.”
Town Supervisor Michael Sweeton said that the agreement with Green Thumb, which included property and sales tax breaks, would be a blessing for the local community. Sweeton said, “I think it’s just a home run for us.” He continued, “We are a farm community economy – we have a lot of farm tourism, a lot of active farms, but we don’t really have much of the corporate realm. This is a brave new world.” It’s amazing to see marijuana reform make its way through the corporate realm, where everyday people can get in on this billion-dollar industry as it moves away from the past by literally taking over its physical space.