Business & Economy

Cannabis harvest ready for New York recreational distribution

Milton, US, Dec 3 (EFE).- The Pura Hepworth farm, perched on the banks of the Hudson River, in the hamlet of Milton, has just harvested its first cannabis crops for recreational use.

The owners of the farm are now waiting for New York authorities to give them the go-ahead for the herb’s distribution to legal marijuana dispensaries.

The skillful hands of a dozen laborers pick the largest marijuana buds one by one as they move along a conveyor belt.

Michael Hant, the manager of the operation, talks Efe through the different types of bud, including UK Cheese, Bubblegum and Purple Punch, which to the untrained eye only seem to differ in their size.

The freshly harvested buds, which were collected in October and placed in dryers, are stored in dozens of boxes in an adjoining warehouse ahead of the launch of the retail sale of marijuana in New York which authorities have slated for late 2022.

Gail Hepworth manages the farm with her sister Amy.

A broad variety of vegetables are also grown onsite, and Hepworth explains that they obtained a permit to grow 8,000 square meters of marijuana. Since then four more farmers obtained licenses and the cultivation of marijuana on the farm now straddles 40,000 square meters.

The state of New York legalized the use of marijuana in March 2021 and began the process to regulate the recreational sale of the drug, which is already legal in other US states.

Hepworth explains that they currently have permits for cultivation and processing, and are hoping to obtain one for seed production and development, as well as distribution.

In the warehouse where chemist Adosh Mehta checks the THC (the main psychoactive component of cannabis) levels of the buds, Gail shows Efe a sample of products the company plans to commercialize: from 7-gram packets of buds to lip balm, oils, moisturizing cream and, pre-rolled marijuana joints.

Bob Hellman, who runs a tiny lab on the farm, jokingly says the process is far removed from the Breaking Bad blockbuster series, as Hepworth slowly draws out oil from plants to produce cannabis concentrate, which looks like liquid honey.

To produce a kilo of cannabis oil, 30 plants are required.

Hellman talks of how when recreational marijuana was legalized in the state of Michigan, a kilo of THC oil cost $30,000. The market has since stabilized and its price has dropped to $18,000.

A small delegation from the Latino Cannabis Association has traveled to the farm to learn more about the initiative.

The association is seeking investors to help the Latino community in New York who wants to venture into the marijuana for recreational use business, co-founder of the group, Junior Lantigua, tells Efe.

“We are 25 members, of which 15 want to request a license for distribution, 5 for cultivation and the rest, to manufacture and process marijuana,” says Lantigua, who is hoping to launch a brand of hemp products he thinks he will need a $2.5 to $5 million investment for.

Another member of the organization, Indhira Mojica, plans to apply for a permit to create “oil for smoking, sweets, sodas and electronic cigarettes.”

Mojica insists that she wants to “be part of this new industry” and that she doesn’t want to let this opportunity slip away.

But before the visit ends, Hepworth asks her future colleagues not to be “greedy”, and that marijuana can offer them good benefits, but as her sister says “marijuana belongs to the people” and must be produced with a conscience. EFE


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