As New York state’s marijuana industry continues to blossom and the once solely recreational substance is legalized and used for medicinal purposes, one stakeholder is putting down roots in the Hudson Valley.
Ellenville resident Stef Schwander is rooting around her purse for a dab pen, saying that she’s smoked marijuana on and off for years.
“It’s a blow pen, too. It’s from a dispensary,” said Schwander.
What You Need To Know
- On October 27, Cresco Labs held their ceremonial groundbreaking at a 50,000-square-foot warehouse that will be a part of their larger campus
- Cresco says the project will provide 75 immediate jobs to the surrounding area, and 375 once it's up and running
- New York’s Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act was signed into law on March 31, 2021, legalizing adult-use cannabis in New York state on a recreational basis
Just a few puffs from the pen, and it provides a higher concentration of cannabis in her system. Once looked at as taboo, Schwander said she’s seen a transformation on a societal and professional scale.
“By making it legal, it makes it OK to get a job doing this,” said said, right outside of her place of employment as she waited to open for the day.
“You're not just some guy selling weed on the corner now. You're in a dispensary, growing it and doing it legitimately, and that takes the bad things and turns it into good things, which is good for this town,” said Schwander.
The timing is no coincidence. Stef has a new neighbor, right across the street from her apartment complex. It’s Cresco Labs’ latest green venture, a campus that will be the cannabis wholesaler’s cultivation and manufacturing to Ellenville and Warwarsing.
Cresco says the project will provide 75 immediate jobs to the surrounding area, and 375 once it's up and running. People got to see the start of that on Oct. 27, when they held a ceremonial groundbreaking at one 50,000-square foot building that will be a part of a larger campus and home to their first phase.
That means the industry is bringing almost 400 new jobs, a tenth of the city’s population, to Ellenville.
Among the attendees were Phil Matracion, Ellenville’s police chief and school board president. Both positions give him a unique perspective to the ever-evolving marijuana market.
“I think Ellenville is moving forward, and Cresco is going to be part of that formula,” said Matracion.
Although it clashes with federal statues, New York’s Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act was signed into law on March 31, 2021, legalizing adult-use cannabis in New York state on a recreational basis.
Matracion adapted his role accordingly and said he recognizes what the opportunity means for the community he is sworn to protect and serve.
“Most people in the community are the same as I was, they’re still cautiously optimistic. They still don’t believe it’s coming. It’s a ‘see it to believe it’ kind of thing, in and around our area,” said Matracion.
While the village of Ellenville is split on a possible dispensary on the streets, there are those that oppose the facility taking up residence in their town.
“I have two kids and I don’t want them to really be like, 'yeah, I live in this town … oh, what are they known for? Oh, we have the big weed place over here,’” said Schwander’s friend, Mellissa Vigh.
But advocates like Schwander say they look forward to their quiet town getting in on the bottom floor of a booming industry.
“It very well could be amazing,” said Schwander.