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Drug company proposes Glenville medical marijuana facility

Drug company proposes Glenville medical marijuana facility

A New York City-based pharmaceutical company is looking to operate a medical marijuana facility at t
Drug company proposes Glenville medical marijuana facility
Ari Hoffnung, president and CEO of NYC-based Fiorello Pharmaceuticals, stands inside a warehouse that he has leased at the Glenville Business & Technology Park on Tuesday. He hopes to start a medical marijuana business at the site.
Photographer: Patrick Dodson

A New York City-based pharmaceutical company is looking to operate a medical marijuana facility at the Glenville Business and Technology Park.

Fiorello Pharmaceuticals is proposing to invest $10 million and create more than 100 new jobs as part of a plan to launch a medical marijuana research and production facility in Schenectady County.

The company applied for one of five medical marijuana licenses that will be awarded by the state Department of Health. Fiorello Pharmaceuticals is one of 43 applicants, with proposals also in Clifton Park and Fulton County.

Fiorello would operate out of a 120,000-square-foot building at the Galesi Group’s tech park. The company also plans to open dispensaries in Syracuse, Rochester, Yonkers and Long Island.

Ari Hoffnung, founder and CEO of Fiorello, said the company is aiming to deliver medical marijuana to patients within six months of receiving a license. That means part of the facility would have to be ready within weeks.

“We have a phased plan and we certainly expect to use the whole facility over time,” he said. “Initially we will use a portion of the building. The lion’s share of our employees will be at the Glenville facility.”

Fiorello is aligned with a medical marijuana company called The Clinic, which operates three cultivation centers and five dispensaries in Colorado and has been granted medical marijuana licenses in Illinois and Nevada.

The Glenville facility would grow, test, extract and process medical marijuana products, including capsules and tinctures, under state regulations. There will also be a 24-hour call center open year-round.

“This is going to be an extraordinarily competitive process and it should be because we are delivering safe and effective medicines to people with cancer and ALS,” Hoffnung said. “We need to ensure patients get the best medicine possible.”

Hoffnung said he believes Fiorello has a leg up in the competition because of the large space the company is looking to occupy and qualified employees who worked for Pfizer and other leading pharmaceutical companies.

He added that Fiorello chose Glenville for a medical marijuana facility because of its location near a number of hospitals such as Albany Medical Center and Ellis Hospital, and colleges like the University at Albany and Union College.

“We have been scouting locations for months now and Building 201 in the tech park was really love at first sight,” he said. “It’s exactly what we’re looking for in terms of a facility that is just massive, with high ceilings and with power and water, so we’re ready to roll.”

Hoffnung said the facility would provide a range of job opportunities for local residents. Fiorello also plans to announce partnerships with local institutions in the coming weeks.

If chosen for a medical marijuana license, Fiorello estimates the annual tax revenues to Schenectady County by 2020 would be more than $1.5 million a year.

“We’re looking to create more than 100 jobs over time,” he said. “The medical marijuana pharmaceutical industry offers opportunities at all points of the education spectrum. There will be cultivation opportunities for folks who might have not benefited from an education and there will be opportunities for people who have Ph.D.’s in chemistry to work in our labs.”

Building 201 at the Glenville tech park used to be home to a plastics manufacturing facility. Fiorello would lease the building from the Galesi Group. The tech park on Route 5 is also home to Adirondack Beverage, CTDI, Dimension Fabricators and Old Dominion.

In Clifton Park, a startup company called North Country Roots is proposing to open a medical marijuana dispensary. In Fulton County, Empire State Health Solutions is looking to open a medical marijuana manufacturing facility at the Tryon Technology Park.

Under the Compassionate Care Act, which Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed into law last July, five companies will be chosen this summer to manufacture and dispense medical marijuana for 10 approved serious medical conditions.

Glenville town Supervisor Chris Koetzle said he believes Fiorello has a good chance of receiving a license because “they have a strong proposal.”

“I didn’t know what to expect when I met them but I was very impressed with their business and resources, and also the experience they have in the pharmaceutical industry,” Koetzle said. “It’s a company newly authorized in the state of New York, but they’re not new at this in terms of business.”

Koetzle said he is looking to the company to boost local job opportunities and attract more companies to the tech park.

“It’s good, high-paying jobs and big investment in the community,” he said. “There will be jobs for our current residents and opportunities for people to move into Glenville. It’s also a great use of an old facility that is empty.”

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