About a half hour south of Albany in an otherwise unassuming industrial park is a grow facility owned by Curaleaf, which opened for business a year ago.
"There's always room to grow, so we look forward to any expansion the program can allow," said Curaleaf General Manager Nate McDonald.
McDonald says the company employs nearly 150 people, with more than 40 employees at the grow facility in Ravena, which started operations last summer.
"We've created a lot of local jobs, and not just regular jobs, but good high-paying jobs. We're talking jobs in the AG industry, jobs in science, we have chemists, we have degreed AG growers. The economic benefit has been huge," McDonald said.
Growing under artificial lights, the facility has thousands of plants that will eventually be converted into prescription medicine for cancer and AIDs patients, as well as those who suffer from seizures and other severe illnesses.
Extracts from the plants will be converted to tincture oils, others will be turned into soft-chew gummies patients can ingest. Stacia Woodcock is a pharmacist with the company.
"It's safe for patients, it provides relief in a way that very few pharmaceuticals do," Woodcock said.
But there are challenges: The federal government considers marijuana scheduled one narcotic. That makes studying the effectiveness of marijuana as a prescription drug impossible in the United States.
"That makes it really challenging. But there are some really good clinical studies coming out of Israel, Germany, other countries, that provide us with really good evidence to move forward with," Woodcock said.
Curaleaf officials say they are a medical marijuana company and are not focusing on the debate surrounding the legalization of marijuana for retail sale, and whether they would present a challenge to their business model. For now, the company says it's pleased with the pace New York has been on to expand the program to other illnesses.
"There are challenges just like in any industry, but we can do a lot on the manufacturing side to alleviate that," McDonald said.
Lawmakers next year expect to once again take up the debate over broader marijuana legalization.