'Prepared for the floodgates to open.' Farm owner praises ruling allowing marijuana dispensary licenses in Mid-Hudson
Workers at an Ulster County farm are getting ready to move a lot of cannabis product and hire more staff after a federal appeals court issued a ruling that allows dispensary licenses in the Hudson Valley.
Gail Hepworth, the owner of Hepworth Farms in Milton, says her farm currently supplies four shops, but they could soon be supplying hundreds.
Licenses in the Mid-Hudson were previously blocked for five months because of a legal challenge to the state's licensing rules. The delay forced Hepworth to trim staff by 35 positions.
"We've trained workers and have had to put them on temporary layoff because the dispensaries aren't open,” Hepworth says.
The farm has enough distillate to produce 40 million cannabis gummies. They have all the tools and technology to produce large amounts of recreational cannabis products, but they're not using them yet because they're not doing enough volume yet.
“We need the market to be open in order to sell this, because the [growing] season's coming and we can grow more,” Hepworth says.
The Office of Cannabis Management has not said exactly when dispensaries will start popping up in the mid-Hudson region.
Hepworth, who's put millions into the farm's cannabis operation, says the farm is all set for the boom, whenever it comes.
"We're doing everything by hand now, but we are prepared for the floodgates to open, by having increased automation and the raw material to allow all of our brands to launch into the dispensaries,” she says.
Hepworth says as her business expands, she'll be able to rehire some of those people she's had to lay off over the past year.
News 12 reached out to the Ulster County Executive's Office for more information on when the county might see its first dispensary.