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Wednesday, March 18, 2015

County legislators unanimously approved a resolution Tuesday backing a
Lewiston-based company's bid to produce medical marijuana. (ENP FILE
Niagara County lawmakers unanimously approved a resolution Tuesday night backing a Lewiston-based company's plans to produce medical marijuana.

“The end goal of this legislation is to ensure New Yorkers have access to the treatment they need through a controlled, regulated process,” Legislator Kathryn L. Lance, a breast cancer survivor, told colleagues about the resolution she jointly authored with Legislature Vice Chairman Clyde L. Burmaster, R-Ransomville.

Ahead of the 14-0 vote, the Wheatfield Republican recalled her own experience battling cancer and suffering the ill effects of chemotherapy and neuropathy associated with the disease, and urged colleagues to contemplate the benefit of pharmaceuticals manufactured from cannabinoids extracted from marijuana plants.

“If we can support the pharmaceutical industry as it develops medicinal products that will help cancer patients get through their treatments better than I did, then I’m all for it,” Lance said.

Lance and several Majority Caucus lawmakers with close ties to the law enforcement community took pains to describe the elaborate security—common to the pharmaceutical industry—that Herbal Agriculture LLC, the Lewiston-based company seeking to grow the medicinal plant at a state-of-the-art greenhouse facility, will be putting in place to ensure no product is unaccounted for.

Under state law, smokable marijuana is not allowed as treatment. All medicine derived from the marijuana plants will be derived from liquid cannabinoids that will be extracted.

Additionally, Herbal Agriculture has stressed its efforts will focus on growing “Charlotte’s Web,” a genetically-engineered strain of the marijuana plant with an extremely low Tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, concentration.

Lawmakers were also cognizant of both the potential for job creation at the Lewiston H2Gro pharmaceutical greenhouse, which currently grows tomatoes, as well as the financial benefits that will accrue to the county that plays host to each of the five medical marijuana growing sites authorized under state law.

“This is a great opportunity for Lewiston and the county, and we have been assured Herbal Agriculture LLC will meet the qualifications set forth by the New York State Department of Health,” Lance said.

The county’s backing positions Herbal Agriculture to apply for one of five medical marijuana production licenses authorized statewide by the State Department of Health.

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