Chicago-based Green Thumb Industries is set to become the latest addition to the site, on the back of a tax-incentive deal worth $36 million.
A former state prison in New York has been transformed into a hub for several cannabis businesses, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reports.
The former Warwick medium-security prison, which housed about 1,000 inmates, mostly for drug offences, closed a decade ago. Over the past few years, local officials have recruited seven cannabis-related businesses to the site.
Now the largest player yet, Chicago-based Green Thumb Industries, is set to move to town on the back of a tax-incentive deal worth about US$30 million ($36 million) over the next 15 years.
Green Thumb, which will acquire 38 acres of land in the deal, plans to open a cultivation and manufacturing facility.
According to the WSJ, the news has been met with a mixed reaction from locals.
With New York legalizing recreational cannabis in March, the town of Warwick has not yet decided whether or not it will allow cannabis dispensaries and lounges with on-site consumption to operate. The town has until the end of the year to opt out.
But Green Thumb’s operations won’t be completely foreign to the area. Several hemp and cannabis businesses are already operating at the former prison site, including a CBD oil manufacturer, a testing laboratory and a medical cannabis grower.
To help offset any hand-wringing and worrying, the Green Thumb has vowed to invest US$155 million ($187 million) into the town and create nearly 200 well-paying jobs within the next three years.
The deal is expected to close this summer, with Green Thumb forking over about US$3 million ($3.6 million) for the site.
Town officials began transforming the prison in 2018 after the so-called U.S. Farm Bill regulated the production of hemp. They set up the non-profit Warick Valley Local Development Corporation and paid the state US$3.75 million ($4.5 million) for the 150-acre property and soon after, began recruiting hemp and cannabis businesses.
The plan has worked, as the latest deal shows.
“We want to control our own destiny,” town supervisor Michael Sweeton told the WSJ, adding that it didn’t want to see the site become home to a new slate of condos.
It’s not the only site associated with the War on Drugs to undergo a rebrand. In Detroit, Evergrow LLC has offered US$500,000 ($615,000) to buy the former Flint Police Training Academy building and has plans to convert it into a commercial cannabis-growing operation.
The building has been shuttered for more than a decade and sits on a 4.4-acre property. The offer is under review.
“It’s kind of ironic that the training facility for the police department, that used to go against marijuana, is going to possibly become a marijuana grow shop,” Flint council member Santino Guerra told MLive.com in April.
If the proposal is successful, Evergrow could become a commercial supplier to cannabis retailers around Flint and throughout the rest of Michigan.
In 2020, the state sold nearly a billion dollars worth of cannabis products.
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