White Creek factory may find future as Washington County’s first marijuana growing facility

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WHITE CREEK, N.Y. (NEWS10) – In the southern Washington County town of White Creek, an out-of-use factory may be in line for a new – and newly legal – line of use.

Businessman Tim Lorito came before the Warren-Washington Industrial Development Agency with a pitch, now approved for a public hearing, leaving it up to the townspeople whether the former Morcon Tissue facility at 879 Route 22 will be the future site of a growing and processing facility for recreational cannabis production.

White Creek Supervisor James Griffith is hoping the public will say yes.

“It’s not really the expansion of marijuana,” Griffith said during a phone call on Monday. “It’s the expansion of agriculture and agritourism.”

The facility would create at least 25 jobs with a base pay of $35,000/year, between growing marijuana flower and extracting oils to then be sold to companies that manufacture other forms of recreational cannabis, such as edibles.

That would leave a big impact in the roughly 2,500-resident community, between Cambridge and Hoosick Falls. Griffith is especially interested in the impact a plant like that could have for area students who want to enter the workforce or a trade profession after graduating high school.

“They’re going to stay in the area, and we want to have jobs for them so they can have a sustainable life,” he said.

He’s also interested in working with existing horticultural programs at WSWHE BOCES to bridge that gap.

The project is a $5 million endeavor, and Lorito is examining mortgage tax and payment-in-lieu-of-taxes options with the IDA.

The White Creek location would be the second cannabis enterprise for Lorito, who currently operates a 10,000 square foot building in Oregon. The Morcon building offers plenty of space for the new plan, which includes use for a 14,000 square foot building for growing, and another 6,000 for processing.

Anything produced by the new facility would have to be sold by licensed sellers within New York, by part of state law established when recreational marijuana was legalized in the state in the spring.

Those dispensary licenses haven’t been distributed yet, but when that part of the process gets going, those businesses and farms will build relationships on their own, keeping the money within financial ecosystems in the state.

“So you won’t be able to sell in Massachusetts, won’t be able to sell in Vermont, won’t be able to sell in New Jersey.”

New York will begin accepting growing applications in January. As long as the community approves the new enterprise, all Lorito will have to do is apply and wait.

As far as the public vote – which does not have a date, but which Griffith said should take place within the next few weeks – public opinion is something the supervisor feels good about.

“I know that some people are completely against marijuana, but the reality is that in New York it is legal,” Griffith said. “They are going to set parameters on growing and cultivating and retail, and ultimately, the positive thing is the jobs.”

Meanwhile, Griffith is also the general manager of the Aviation Mall in Queensbury, and said that federal law would not allow him to invite a marijuana dispensary to operate within the mall at this time.

But, things could always change.

“There is a bill in the house that Chuck Schumer introduced just two weeks ago to allow less restrictive banking for companies working on business with marijuana industries,” he explained.

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