The Ironic History Of New York’s $150M ‘Cannabis Campus’ | Forbes

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About 60 miles north of Manhattan, at the foothills of the Ramapo Mountains and past a few cow pastures, stands the red brick buildings of the old Mid-Orange Correctional Facility in Warwick, New York. In 2011, then-New York Governor Andrew Cuomo shuttered the prison. Now a decade later, 40 acres of penitentiary farmland is being transformed into the new home of Green Thumb Industries, one of the nation’s largest cannabis companies, and its $150-million cultivation and manufacturing site.

By 2023, GTI’s “cannabis campus” will start producing tens of thousands of pounds of marijuana, millions of THC-infused gummies and vape cartridges to fill the shelves of its dispensaries throughout the Empire State.

Ben Kovler, the 42-year-old CEO and founder of Chicago-based Green Thumb Industries, which grows and sells cannabis, edibles, vaporizers and other products across 14 states and reported $79.3 million in adjusted EBITDA in the second quarter, is standing in the mud as he presides over the groundbreaking ceremony for his new facility.

“The irony of building a cannabis facility near the grounds of what used to be a federal prison is not lost on us,” Kovler tells a group of union leaders and politicians on a cloudy day in early September. “We understand what happened with the War on Drugs. And we’re planning to flip that around. Change is really in the air, change is happening in the country, change is happening here. 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.”

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