GREENFIELD – Local maple syrup “tastes better,” according to the website of Twin Leaf Farms, a new brand on an old plot of land in Saratoga County. Now, its owners are gearing up to market a similar bid for a different leaf: marijuana.

While the land and home next to Twin Leaf has been in Claudia Bright’s family for seven generations, she and her husband, Kevin Bright, bought the farm about four years ago, when the former owner – who had run it himself for decades – was looking to get out. Public records show they registered the brand in August 2019.

“Since then, we’ve upgraded the maple operation,” Kevin Bright said. He explained, from a couch in the couple’s nearby Saratoga County home, how vacuum pumps and a few additional staff members had allowed them to double their output to 150 gallons last year. 

Sitting in his Lincoln Logs-style New York cabin, the open-faced man cozied up with his wife in front of a purple accent wall reminiscent of the interiors made famous by Rachel and Monica’s Manhattan apartment in the 1990s sitcom “Friends” – a megahit for which Kevin Bright was the executive producer, along with David Crane and Marta Kauffman.  

Kevin Bright was himself a native Manhattanite, eventually kindling a sociology 101 romance with his wife, Claudia, as a SUNY Plattsburgh student and putting down roots in her native community in Greenfield. But the pair is decidedly bicoastal, with a residence in Los Angeles, after first moving to California in 1982. 

The initiation of Bright’s interest in cannabis may have drawn a laugh track from the room – “well, I was 16 years old…” – but he nodded at more serious insights from when he and Claudia watched the West Coast industry unfold. 

The couple have been public cheerleaders for the plant ever since Kevin Bright’s elderly, treatment-resistant mom saw a significant quality-of-life benefit after being prescribed the synthetic cannabinoid Marinol (known also by its generic name dronabinol). 

After watching her improvements, a decade ago the couple approached UCLA looking to support cannabis-related research. While the school didn’t have much to say on the topic at the time, years later it came back to them for support of its now-robust Cannabis Research Initiative. 

But the Brights were less than enthusiastic about the way California’s adult-use legalization played out. 

“I think we’re bringing the experience with us of what not to do,” Kevin Bright said. “The state grows more than literally the inhabitants of California combined. This leads to a lot of black market growing. And these dispensaries open up in vacant stores and they open for a month and then they get busted and then they move on and they open another one, that’s part of the process of what they do. They’re underselling the legitimate dispensaries.” 

Kevin Bright said the pair was encouraged to jump into the market in New York in spite of the California “wild west” because it sounded to them like the state would do things differently, including investing the industry’s revenue in communities most affected by its criminalization. 

Their vision for the 400 acres of their Twin Leaf Farms is to keep producing maple syrup and doing other traditional farming, while also trying their hand at cannabis, and technological advances like solar energy – but to lodge the latter two deeper onto their property, out of sight.

“Our solar field will not be an eyesore because it will be in the middle,” said Claudia Bright, noting that residents of the area have protested solar based on how it changes the character of the region’s agricultural land. Similarly, they hope to apply for a license for mom-and-pop, craft-scale cannabis farming and listen carefully to neighbors’ concerns about issues like security. 

Ryan Veitch, care taker of property at Twin Leaf Farms, checks on the collection lines in a stand of maple trees on Monday, Dec. 20, 2021, in Greenfield Center, N.Y. Owners of the maple farm, Kevin and Claudia Bright, have plans to use some of the land on the farm to get involved in the cannabis market.
Ryan Veitch, care taker of property at Twin Leaf Farms, checks on the collection lines in a stand of maple trees on Monday, Dec. 20, 2021, in Greenfield Center, N.Y. Owners of the maple farm, Kevin and Claudia Bright, have plans to use some of the land on the farm to get involved in the cannabis market.Paul Buckowski/Times Union

But nearly nine months after the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act was passed in New York to legalize cannabis, all of their plans are speculative – the newly formed Cannabis Control Board and Office of Cannabis Management have yet to release regulations and license categories that will allow the couple to know where they might fit. 

Board Chair Tremaine Wright recently said she was sticking to a previously announced 18-month timeline – since the board’s completion in October – for the state’s adult-use industry to be up and running, which means such operations would not be operational until April 2023. 

But many public relations agents, lobbyists and lawyers across the state have been stacking up clients who are hoping to give themselves an early edge in the market – including Mercury Public Affairs, who the Brights have begun working with already. 

Many of these attorneys and lobbyists have told the Times Union that it’s not too early to start drumming up interest in a plan. They advise versions of what Kaelan Castetter, vice president of the New York Cannabis Growers & Processors Association, called “creating an air of inevitability” — engaging community leaders, senators, assembly members, even residents of the area. 

According to the Mercury representatives for the Brights, the pair has already made strides to share their plan with leaders, even offering a tour of the property to Assemblywoman Carrie Woerner, whose district skirts Greenfield Center. 

“(Twin Leaf Farms) is one of maybe four potential grow businesses that have reached out to me to talk about what their ideas are, and how they’d like to proceed,” Woerner said. 

Woerner does not have a say in who will get the licenses – the Office of Cannabis Management will submit recommendations on decisions to Wright, whose ultimate approvals will rely on a lack of objection from the five-person board. But the Assemblywoman does have hopes for what the industry will look like in her area. 

“We really wanted to encourage locally grown businesses as opposed to candidates coming in from out of state,” Woerner said. “So I’m really encouraged by the conversations I’ve had.”

Woerner learned about the Brights’ plan from Kevin Veitch, who has been involved in managing the farm and who she knows from her time working in local government. Veitch will take on the role of town supervisor in Greenfield in the new year. 

Meanwhile, Kevin and Claudia Bright have high hopes for Claudia’s native region: they see it as a potential “Napa Valley” of the East Coast, with agrotourism and cannabis at its core. 


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