Until closing a decade ago, a sprawling state prison in this town northwest of New York City locked up men convicted of drug offenses and other crimes.
Now Warwick aims to turn what was a medium-security complex in Orange County into a bustling regional hub for growing and processing cannabis. Its entrepreneurs hope to cash in on the state’s move this spring to legalize recreational marijuana for adults.
Local officials have recruited seven cannabis-related businesses to the Hudson Valley site, still marked by reddish brick buildings that at one point incarcerated nearly 1,000 men. In March the town provided tax incentives for Chicago-based Green Thumb Industries to buy 38 acres for a large cultivation and manufacturing facility.
Boosters say the new ventures will bring tax revenues and hundreds of good jobs. But some parents say making the town a marijuana production center could send children a message condoning drug use. Small growers statewide worry large companies, such as Green Thumb, will squeeze them out of the market. And even some fans of the project see risks ahead.
“It seems like everybody and his brother and sister want to get on the cannabis bandwagon,” said Richard Hull, a historian in Warwick. “There will be a lot of competition, but it’s certainly worth the risk.” [Read more at The Wall Street Journal]